When safety is concerned, it's best to act fast.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into Ford's handling of a recall last year involving 620,000 vehicles with faulty rearview cameras. What's more, the safety agency is looking into whether the Blue Oval's recall included enough vehicles, which includes best-sellers like the F-150 and Mustang, the Associated Press reports. Several Lincoln models were also affected.
The backstory goes like this: Ford began its large recall last September 23 due to said backup cameras showing blank or distorted images. Ford realized there was a problem in February 2020 after examining multiple warranty claims, but its internal safety committee didn't begin discussing the matter until May.
Fast-forward to July, the NHTSA informed Ford it too had been receiving a large number of complaints about the cameras. The carmaker showed the agency its own data regarding high failure camera rates the following month. In all, it took Ford seven months from the time it noticed there was a problem until the recall was issued.
Given the safety importance backup cameras have (plus the fact they're required standard equipment in all new vehicles by federal law), it's totally understandable why the NHTSA isn't happy with Ford. The pace of the company's internal investigation probably could have been much faster.
Therefore, it's possible the agency wants to know more about how Ford's internal investigation process works. For its part, Ford has pledged its full cooperation with the investigation. In 2014, the NHTSA announced that backup cameras must become a standard feature in all new vehicles beginning in May 2018.
The reason why backup cameras are considered a vital safety feature is to eliminate the rear blind spot in order to avoid a backup collision. The cameras are connected to a display that's often integrated directly into the vehicle's dashboard. It's also possible for the camera's image to be projected into the rearview mirror.