NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 Ford Excursion

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2004 Ford Excursion, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: ENGINE STALLING

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA05003

    Component(s): Electrical System:Wiring:Front Underhood
    Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Diesel

    Summary: In a June 7, 2005 letter, Ford notified ODI that it would be conducting a safety recall of approximately 180,000 Ford F-Super Duty, Excursion and E-series vehicles equipped with 6.0L diesel engines to correct two wiring related conditions that could result in engine stall (NHTSA recall no. 05V-270, Ford no. 05S34).the affected vehicles were built between September 29, 2003 and May 31, 2004.according to Ford, vehicles with the conditions may stall without warning and may or may not restart.Ford will instruct owners of vehicles included in the recall to take their vehicles to a dealer to have the fuel injector control module wire harness upgraded or replaced and or have a new injection control pressure sensor connector installed.during a May 2005 presentation to ODI, Ford identified a number of potential failure mechanisms that could affect engine performance in various segments of the subject vehicle population, including the wiring conditions addressed by 05V-270.the wiring conditions, which both affect engine fueling, were the most likely conditions to result in engine stall.the recalled vehicles comprise approximately 43% of the subject vehicle population and account for 75 of the 113 ODI reports that have a valid VIN (66%).the voq complaint rate for the recall population is 45/100K while the rate for vehicles outside the recall population is 17/100K and their trend (by date of receipt) is declining.based on the analysis, ODI believes Ford's actions are sufficient to address the current safety risks and the investigation is thus closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety related defect does not exist.further action will be taken if warranted by future circumstances.

  2. INVESTIGATION: SPARK PLUG EJECTION FROM CYLINDER HEAD

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP05005

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: September 22, 2005
    • Date Closed: January 04, 2006
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline

    Summary: On September 6, 2005, ODI received a petition requesting that the Agency investigate allegations of engine spark plug ejection in certain model year 1997 through 2004 Ford vehicles with Triton V-8 and V-10 engines.ODI received a total of 474 non-duplicative complaints on the subject vehicles where the complainant, or the dealer repairing the vehicle, reported that a spark plug detached from the cylinder and/or ejected from the engine.as of December 8, 2005, ODI is not aware of any allegations where the alleged defect resulted in a loss of vehicle control, a crash, an injury, or a fatality in any of the 10,319,810 subject vehicles.in addition, ODI is aware of only two incidents where the vehicle stalled without restart.information contained in the ODI consumer complaints and obtained from 72 telephone interviews with complainants showed the following:(1) 99% of the complaints were on MY 1997 to 2002 subject vehicles.(2) most the complainants reported hearing a loud pop while driving or upon starting up the vehicle followed by a loud, repetitive clicking or popping sound.(3) many of the complainants reported that the popping sound was accompanied by some loss of vehicle power; however, in 99% of the incidents reported, the vehicle did not stall.in the very few incidents where the vehicle did stall, most vehicles could be restarted.(4) only a small percentage of the complainants cited that they smelled gas or a slight burning smell when the incident occurred.(5) in all but a very few incidents, vehicle damage was limited to the engine.in one incident, the complaint reported that the fuel rail was damaged and replaced after one of the spark plugs ejected from the engine; however, the complainant reported that the damage did not result in any type of fuel leak or fire.in another incident, the only incident where a fire was alleged, the complainant reported that no fluid leak was observed, but that a fire resulted after the spark plug had ejected from the engine and he had restarted the vehicle and driven to another location.none of the complainants reported any damage to the vehicle hood.(6) only two complainants reported that they observed what appeared to be some drops of fuel coming from the cylinder where the spark plug had failed or on the spark plug itself; however, each of these complainants reported that there was no smoke or flames as a result of his incident.as the petitioner noted, and ODI's analysis showed, it is possible for a spark plug to detach from the engine cylinder threads in the subject vehicles.however, ODI's analysis of 474 complaints describing such incidents found only a very few alleged any safety-related consequences.none of these showed any evidence of a serious safety consequence.given the large population and relatively long exposure time of the subject vehicles, the complaint analysis indicates that the risk to motor vehicle safety from the alleged defect is very low.in view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order for the notification and remedy of the alleged defect at the conclusion of the investigation requested in the petition.therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the Agency's safety mission, the petition is denied.

  3. INVESTIGATION: ENGINE STALLING

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE04070

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: October 07, 2004
    • Date Closed: February 15, 2005
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Diesel

    Summary: Twenty five of the ODI failure reports are duplicative of Ford complaints.twenty ODI reports do not contain a VIN (and may or may not be duplicative of Ford reports).the 14 alleged crashes and 2 alleged injuries were all minor.submitted during preliminary evaluation (PE) 04-070, Ford's response to ODI's information request (ir) letter contained about 5,000 consumer reports (mors) and 8,700 field reports (cqis).Ford reviewed the complaints and categorized them.the manufacturer reports shown above represent a count of unique vehicles that Ford categorized as allegedly stalling due to a subject engine component ('a' category, see Ford's ir response letter for further detail); some of these vehicles received multiple reports.ODI has not yet confirmed Ford's categorization of these reports, nor has ODI confirmed Ford's categorization of the remaining reports (which Ford states do not pertain to the alleged defect).Ford submitted nearly 19,000 warranty claims, many of which involved claims for a technical service bulletin (tsb 04-13-08) and field service action (fsa 03B05) which Ford identified as potential remedies for stalling complaints.ODI has not confirmed that either of these are a remedy for engine stalling complaints.several other dealer communications related to engine stall were also submitted as well as over 50 product modifications, 15 of which involve revisions to the software for the electronic engine control unit.further investigation is required and ODI is upgrading PE04-070 to an engineering analysis (ea).during the ea, ODI will establish and update manufacturer failure report counts, further investigate the frequency and trend of stalling complaints, and determine the scope and safety implication of stalling events.ODI will also investigate Ford's remedies, their effectiveness, and whether further action is required.

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