And yes, it's serious.
Owners of certain model year Ford F-150s and F-Series Super Duty pickup trucks might be subject to a newly issued recall by the automaker in coordination with the NHTSA. The affected trucks are a subset of the 874,000 vehicles recalled last December to repair a wiring problem. This time, a total of 327,000 trucks equipped with engine block heaters are being recalled because the cable splice connectors might have inadvertently been damaged during a service procedure during a previous recall. This is now a fire risk.
However, a safety risk only exists when the truck is parked and the block heater is plugged into an electrical outlet. It’s also possible this defect can result in other unwanted situations, such as tripping of household breakers or GFCI-equipped outlets or a resistive short, which can increase the risk of overheated or even melted wiring leading to a fire.
Ford is strongly advising owners not to use the heater until the necessary repairs have been made. All told, 131,060 vehicles in the US and 196,269 in Canada are being recalled for a second time. Ford has specifically broken down which pickup trucks are affected:
• 2015-19 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Truck Plant, March 18, 2014 to November 17, 2018 and at Kansas City Assembly Plant, August 21, 2014 to November 17, 2018
• 2017-19 Ford F-Series Super Duty vehicles built at Ohio Assembly Plant, February 5, 2016 to November 17, 2018 and at Kentucky Truck Plant, October 8, 2015 to November 17, 2018
Ford is aware of one fire in the US and one in Canada that could be related to this issue, but is fortunately not aware of any reports of related injuries. It has instructed its dealerships to disable the vehicle’s engine block heater cable by cutting off the plug end prongs and then sealing the end cap with silicone sealant.
Affected customers will be notified once an engine block replacement becomes available. In the meantime, these customers ought to abide by Ford’s warnings.