— Ford F-150 downshifting problems have caused a recall of nearly 1.5 million model year 2011-2013 trucks equipped with 6-speed automatic transmissions.
The automaker says five crashes and one whiplash injury have been blamed on trucks suddenly downshifting into first gear without warning. A loss of signal from the transmission output speed sensor to the powertrain control module is allegedly the source of the downshifting problem.
About 1.3 million of the recalled F-150 trucks are in the U.S. and another 221,000 are in Canada. All the trucks were built in Kansas City and Michigan, and Ford believes all can be repaired by updating the powertrain control module software.
Ford F-150s have experienced downshifting problems in the past when in April 2016 model year 2011-2012 trucks were included in a recall of 202,000 vehicles.
In addition to the F-150, the 2016 recall also saw the 2012 Ford Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator recalled for sudden downshifting into first gear. The 2016 recall also blamed the problem on transmission output speed sensors.
A Ford investigation related to the 2016 recall found a problem with the supplier where a solder joint fatigue crack could develop in the sensor circuits in the trucks equipped with 6R80 transmissions. The automaker continued to monitor the field for downshifting problems but found low rates of incidents that caused the wheels to slip.
Ford also found that drivers were able to maintain control of the trucks even when sudden downshifts occurred, but Canadian regulators decided to open their own investigation based on reports from F-150 drivers in that country.
However, Ford said downshifting incidents that caused wheel slip continued to be low in comparison to the recall population.
It's possible repairs made in 2016 didn't completely fix the downshifting problems because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the matter in December 2017.
Federal safety regulators said at the time drivers continued to complain of downshifting problems, with some of those vehicles allegedly repaired during the 2016 recall. Other drivers reported their transmissions suddenly shifted into first gear but their vehicles weren't included in the recall.
The recall is expected to begin March 4, 2019. Ford F-150 drivers may contact Ford at 866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19S07.
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