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NHTSA Probes' Catastrophic Engine Failure' In 2.7-Liter-Powered Broncos

Ford has opened a probe of Ford's 2.7-liter-powered Bronco following reports of "catastrophic engine failures" that begin with the drivetrain and end up stopping the engine and keeping it from starting.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into reports that the super-popular Bronco SUV has an engine problem.

NHTSA Can Open Investigations

The safety agency, which announced the probe into the issue a couple of days ago, can open investigations into problems. The investigations are meant to discover whether there is an issue that deserves a recall. The automaker is responsible for any recall that might result from the investigation, not NHTSA.

According to Autoblog, the probe into Ford's "sixth-generation Bronco" has been opened over "reports of 'catastrophic engine failure." According to published reports, the safety agency received "three petitions requesting a probe into the alleged problem."

The agency has assigned the number DP22001 to the issue of reports of "catastrophic engine failure," said Autoblog. At the heart of this probe is Ford's 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. The 2.7-liter V-6 reportedly has a valvetrain-related issue, and the valvetrain issue has reportedly caused Broncos to lose power "at highway speeds." Once this failure has occurred, the petitioners told NHTSA that it is then impossible to restart the engine, according to Autoblog. The petition NHTSA action describes this as a "catastrophic engine failure" with no mention of the components that might have failed.

According to NHTSA's website,, "This defect petition has been opened to evaluate the issue and determine whether to grant or deny the petitions." Autoblog commented that this "means the investigation is not a recall, does not force Ford to issue a recall, and does not acknowledge an issue with the V-6."

Bronco Forum Documents Failures

The enthusiast forum "Bronco6G" "has been documenting cases of engine" failure since Ford began deliveries of the popular SUV. The forum notes that 50 of its members "have reportedly experienced the issue described in NHTSA's documents. Some describe it as a dropped valve, a problem which usually damages the cylinder and the head, and many of the affected SUVs have received" new engines. Ford said it is aware of the problem.

A spokesperson for Ford told The Drive, in answer to a question about the issue that "We are aware of a selected number of engines with this concern, and we are investigating. If any customers are experiencing issues, they will be covered under the vehicle's five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty."

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Co.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.