Ford recalls 668K F-150 pickup trucks over unexpected downshift issue

Ford Motor Co. 2014 F-150 pickup trucks sit on the lot at Rod Baker Ford dealership in Plainfield, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ford announced Tuesday that it's issuing a recall for the 2014 model year F-150 pickup trucks because they can unexpectedly downshift into the first gear and cause the driver to lose control or the rear wheels to lock up.

A loss of signal can cause the transmission to downshift regardless of vehicle speed, the company told the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The recall covers 668,000 Ford F-150 trucks worldwide, including 552,000 in the U.S. Ford said it's aware of 300 warranty reports, 96 field reports and 124 customer complaints covering 482 vehicles related to the unexpected downshifting on the 2014 F-150. 

Those include two injury reports and one crash that may be related to the issue. NHTSA said one owner said he "experienced an unexpected downshift causing his vehicle to crash into a concrete barrier and another vehicle, injuring both him and the driver of the other vehicle."

Ford says it expects the repair, which will come in the form of a software update performed by dealers on the powertrain control module software, to be available in Q3 2024. Once the automaker has the repairs ready, customers can complete the repair using mobile service and pickup and delivery at participating dealerships.

The company said that before drivers experience a downshift to first gear, the malfunction indicator light (MIL) may illuminate. 

In some cases, the output shaft signal could recover while driving and the vehicle will resume normal function; in other cases, the vehicle may need to be stopped and restarted to regain normal transmission operation.

NHTSA and Ford have met on several occasions since March to discuss the issue before Ford agreed to the latest recall. 

The company expects that the number of vehicles impacted by the issue to be less than 1% of the total recall population. Ford also said the rate of downshift reports for 2014 model year F-150 remains lower than the 2011-2013 F-150 vehicles previously recalled.

In 2016, Ford recalled 153,000 2011-2012 Ford F-150 vehicles equipped with six-speed automatic transmissions to address the downshift issue.

NHTSA opened a probe into the problem in December 2017 and in February 2019, Ford expanded its recall to cover 1.48 million F-150 trucks in North America, including 2013 models. Later in 2019, Ford issued a recall for 107,000 2013 F-150 trucks due to an issue with the fix.

Reuters contributed to this report. Read more of this story from FOX Business