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Ford Recalls F-150s, E-Series Vans To Repair, Update Issues

In three recalls, Ford has called back F-150 pickups and E-Series vans to either update software of fix two problems. The problems involve the Daylight Running Lights, an engine block heater cable, and potential damage to the rear axle.
Posted: February 26, 2020 - 12:02AM
Author: Marc Stern


In a series of safety compliance and safety recalls, the Ford Motor Co. has recalled nearly 251,000 pickups and vans in the United States and Canada. The biggest recall is for safety compliance, while the other recalls are for safety issues. Late last year, Ford recalled 600,000 Super Duty pickups for an interesting problem that I detailed here.

2018-2020 F-150s Need Module Software Update

In the safety compliance recall, Ford has recalled 2018-2020 F-150 pickups with LED headlights. In issuing the safety compliance recall, the automaker said that when drivers use the daytime running lamps (DRL) on affected vehicles and the master lighting switch is manually rotated from the autolamp position to the headlamp-on (low-beam) position; the DRLs remain activated instead of dimming. Federal motor vehicle safety rules require that the headlights dim to parking lamp intensity. This could may the visibility of other drivers and may increase the risk of a crash.

Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition, which affects 166,196 vehicles in the U.S. and territories and 50,989 in Canada. Dealers will update the software in the body control module.

F-150s Built From 2017 To 2019

Ford built the pickups at the Dearborn Truck Plant from Jan. 5, 2017 to Oct. 10, 2019, and the Kansas City Assembly Plant from Jan. 25, 2017 to Oct 10, 2019. The recall notice is 20C03.

In the first safety recall, 33,538 Ford F-150 pickups, equipped with engine heater elements and 3.5-liter GTDI engines, may have a faulty engine block heater cable.

Depending on the location of the heater element, the heater cables may not have sufficient heat protection and may not be long enough. In this situation, prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause a resistive short, knocking out the engine block heater, possibly tripping either household breakers or GFCI-equipped outlets while the vehicle is parked with the engine block heater plugged in.

Issue Occur When Pickup Is Parked

Ford says the risk only occurs while the vehicle is parked, with the block heater plugged into an electrical outlet. A resistive short in the engine-block heater splice connector can increase the risk of overheated or melted wiring and fire. Ford has advised its customers not to use the engine block heater cable before a cable inspection.

Ford has not heard of any reports of fire, accident, or injury related to this issue. Dealers will inspect the block heater and cable and repair or replace as necessary. The Ford recall reference number is 20S08. Ford built the affected vehicles at the Dearborn Truck Plant from July 31, 2014, to Sept. 27, 2016, and the Kansas City Assembly plant from Feb. 10, 2015, to Oct. 15, 2016.

The second safety recall affects certain 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty and 2021 E-Series vehicles (vans). In the affected vehicles, there may be an inadequate amount of axle lubricant. It can lead to bearing seizure, which can result in component fracture and driveshaft separation from the rear axle. In the event of a rear-axle pinion stem fracture, the vehicles will stop, and you won’t be able to put them into Park, as well. If the parking brake is not applied, this could result in unintended vehicle movement, increasing the risk of injury or crash. This, in turn, increases the risk of injury or accidents. Ford is not aware of any issue related to this issue. The action affects 319 vehicles in the U.S. and seven in Canada.

Affected Pickps, Vans Identified

The affected vehicles include:

  • 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty vehicles built at Kentucky Truck Plant Jan. 12-14, 2020
  • 2021 Ford E-Series vehicles built at Ohio Assembly Plant Jan. 2-16, 2020

Dealers will check the differential fluid level. If the fluid is at the proper level, there will be no further action. If the fluid level is low, dealers will replace the rear axle assemblies for free. The reference number for this recall is 20S09.

Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper’s auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn’t much on four wheels that I haven’t driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Most of Marc's stories can be found at Torque News Ford coverage. Check back again and search for Torque News Ford F-150 news for more F-150 truck news coverage.