NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 Ford F-150

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 F-150, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Inadvertent airbag deployment

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA10001

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal
    Air Bags:Frontal:Driver Side Inflator Module
    Air Bags:Frontal:Sensor/Control Module

    Summary: ODI opened this investigation based on reports of inadvertent airbag deployment.Data provided by Ford indicated that the airbag clockspring jumper wire, which is situated inside the steering wheel assembly, was installed in a manner that would allow it to rub (abrade) against a sharp metal edge on the nearby horn plate.Because the horn plate is electrically grounded the abrasion of an airbag wire on the sharp edge could cause a short circuit condition.As a result the airbag light may illuminate and/or the airbag may inadvertently deploy.Inadvertent deployments are most likely to occur during the airbag system's self-diagnostic test that initiates when the ignition switch is turned on.Ford modified the vehicle design in late January 2006 adding a protective tape over the sharp metal edge of the horn plate.Ford made additional design changes on MY 2007 vehicles to the horn plate, the clockspring jumper, and the connector layouts to further address this issue.ODI identified 318 deployment incidents with 121 alleged injury reports from subject vehicles.All but one of the incident and injury reports occurred in vehicles built before the January 2006 modification.In addition, there was one incident and alleged injury reported in the MY 2006 Mark LT vehicles that share the same design. In letters dated February 21 and April 11, 2011, Ford announced a recall of all of the approximately 1.3 million MY 2004-2006 F-150 vehicles built prior to January 24, 2006, the date the initial vehicle modification was made.In addition, approximately 14,000 MY 2006 Mark LT vehicles built prior to January 24, 2006 will also be recalled.Vehicles built after that date, which contain the modification, are not within the recall scope.Accordingly the investigation is closed.


    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP05005

    • Status:
    • 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.


    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE08063

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: October 31, 2008
    • Date Closed: February 27, 2009
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Other
    Fuel System, Other:Delivery
    Fuel System, Other:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings
    Fuel System, Other:Fuel Injection System

    Summary: The Agency has closed this investigation based on its review of complaint reports, discussions with complainants and field and technical data provided by Ford.the subject vehicles are 1/2 ton pickup trucks and are natural gas vehicles (ngv) that are fueled by gasoline or compressed natural gas.the Agency has received reports alleging improper operation of the natural gas fuel pressure regulator allowing release of excess amounts of natural gas into the engine compartment.Ford reports that the regulator contains an over pressure relief valve that will vent natural gas should the pressure exceed a set threshold.the complaint reports and data reviewed by the Agency indicate that an improperly operating pressure regulator can result in an overpressure condition and activate the regulator pressure relief valve.the released natural gas is directed through a vent hose that discharges the natural gas in the vicinity of the right front wheel house and away from the engine compartment's extremely hot areas/surfaces.owners are normally aware of this problem by the presence of an illuminated warning light inside the vehicle, odor of natural gas or the sound of venting gas.when the operator turns the engine off, the natural gas supply tank solenoid will close and the regulator will not release natural gas.at vehicle restart, the solenoid valve will remain closed to prevent leakage and the vehicle will only operate in the gasoline mode.a safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of Agency resources does not appear to be warranted.accordingly, this investigation is closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.the Agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Fuel Tank Strap Failure Due to Corrosion

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA11006

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly
    Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly:Mounting
    Fuel System, Other:Storage:Tank Assembly
    Fuel System, Other:Storage:Tank Assembly:Mounting

    Summary: One or both of the steel straps holding up the fuel tank and attaching it to the truck frame can corrode and fail (break or separate).If one strap fails, the tank may tilt and drop and possibly contact the road surface.If both straps break, the entire tank may drop to the road.If either failure occurs while the vehicle is being driven, contact with the road can abrade the tank and create a hole from which gasoline can spill.When the tank drops, it remains attached to the vehicle only by the fuel filler hose and/or supply lines, or in rare instances, by the skid plate, if present.In some cases the weight of the tank sufficiently strained the hoses and fittings and caused separation and subsequent fuel leaks from those connections.The fire hazard created by leaking gasoline is increased by the possible presence of sparks created by the metal tank being dragged along the road.Corrosion of the straps appears to be caused by prolonged exposure to road deicers, frequently road salt, used to treat snow or ice covered roads.States in which large quantities of deicers are applied to roads during the winter season ("salt belt states") account for the predominant portion of strap failures.Vehicles in these salt belt states are prone to experience corrosion related failures more frequently and earlier in a vehicle-s life cycle.Ford reports approximately 97 percent of reports it received relating to strap failure involve vehicles that were operated in these high corrosion areas, and 95 percent of the reports to NHTSA involved such vehicles.Approximately one-third of F-150 U.S. production was sold in salt belt states.ODI has included in the above counts reports it has received from consumers and reports it has received from Ford in which either the complaint involved confirmed strap corrosion or ODI's assessment of available information suggests corrosion caused the reported problem.Among the incidents reported to NHTSA, 441 involved one or both straps failing due to corrosion, 353 involved the fuel tank dropping and/or dragging on the ground, and 180 involved fuel leakage.ODI has received four reports of strap failure in which the leaking fuel ignited but self-extinguished, and one incident in which fire destroyed the vehicle and injured its driver.Ford reported the same injury incident and three other unique fire incidents, including two in which the leaking fuel ignited and fire destroyed the vehicle.There were no injuries associated with the three unique Ford incidents.Ford has agreed to conduct a recall to repair the subject vehicles.The recall will cover vehicles that were originally sold or are currently registered in salt belt states (regardless of vehicle age).The vehiclesincluded in the recall are those subject vehicles that are, or have ever been, registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or the District of Columbia.Ford's recall action appears to adequately address the problem at this time.The above vehicle population (1,340,349) includes subject vehicles originally delivered or sold in salt belt states.ODI does not know the current or historical locations of all subject vehicles.According to Ford approximately 73% of the recall population is currently registered (a 27% attrition rate).Ford is also recalling certain MY 1997-1999 F-250 vehicles (under 8,500 GVWR), and MY2002-2003 Lincoln Blackwood vehicles for the same condition, resulting in an estimated 1.1 million total vehicles covered by the recall (see Safety Recall 11V-385 for further details).

Browse Other F-150 Years

Become a Fan & Spread the Word