There are a lot of things on a Ford that can cause headaches. But door latches are quickly reaching migraine status.
These defective little jerks are the source of doors swinging open while driving down the road, electronic locks not working, handles freezing in place, or doors bouncing back after they’re closed with some gusto. To be fair, that last one can be entertaining for your neighbors.
So why in the name of Henry Ford their doors won’t stay closed?
The “Pawl Spring” Problem in the Focus and Fusion
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had received so many “door won’t close” complaints, that by September of 2014 they opened an investigation.
The probe focused on the 2011-2013 Fiesta, but was later expanded to explore similar problems in the Fusion. Even the Lincoln MKZ couldn’t escape*.
Pawl Spring Recall
The issue can be traced to the door latch pawl spring, which is a coil-shaped device that brings a door handle back to its original position. The pawl springs in certain Ford vehicles is just defective.
Under pressure by the investigation, Ford announced a recall 830,000 vehicles to keep their doors shut in August 2016. The recalled vehicles include:
|Make||Model||Years||Build Date||Build Location|
|Ford||Fiesta||2011-2014||11/03/2009 to 05/31/2013||Cuautitlán Assembly Plant|
|Ford||Fusion||2013-2014||02/01/2012 to 05/31/2013||Hermosillo Assembly Plant|
|04/12/2013 to 04/26/20133||Flat Rock Assembly Plan|
|Lincoln||MKZ||2013-2014||02/01/2012 to 05/31/2013||Hermosillo Assembly Plant|
* Bonus points if you can pick out the Ford puns
Prior Recalls of Door Latch Problems
This wasn’t the first time Ford had recalled cars for door latch problems.
In April 2015, the automaker recalled 390,000 cars after 658 door latch complaints. The affected model years were the 2012-2014 Ford Fiesta, 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ.
A month later, the recall expanded bringing the total number of recalled vehicles to 546,000. The expansion included the 2011-14 Ford Fiesta, 2013-14 Ford Fusion and 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ vehicles.
Additional Door Latch Problems
Much like their customers, Ford can’t seem to shut the door on latch-related problems. Is it only a matter of time before we see another recall?
Similar Problems in the 2012 and 2013 Focus
The 2012-2013 Focus was not part of the original NHTSA investigation because their latch systems, while similar, were made by a different company. That didn’t stop the complaints from rolling in.
By January 2016 NHTSA had heard enough and opened a separate investigation into 400,000 Focus vehicles.
Automotive defect attorneys, Girrard Gibbs, are seeking input from owners who have experienced this problem.
The Cold Isn’t Helping, Either
As if Ford’s latches needed another foe, this F-150 lawsuit says freezing temperatures cause all sorts of latch problems – from doors not closing or locking, to frozen door handles (not frozen because of ice, but because of mechanical failure).
The lawsuit only covers 2015-2017 F-150 owners and lessees in the state of New York, so while it’s specific it also shows that Ford’s latch problems spread far and wide.
The lead plaintiff, Brandon Kommer, points out that Ford has released multiple Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) related to the problem. On April 8, 2015, TSB 15-0052 was sent to dealers saying:
““2015 F-150 SuperCab and SuperCrew Cab vehicles built on or before 3/25/2015 may exhibit inoperative door latches during or after freezing temperatures.” - TSB 15-0052”
We’d like to see Ford try and deny that one.
The TSB recommends fully removing the door panel and using compressed air and grease to get things moving again.
Ford later issued TSB 16-0155 to include all 2015-2017 F-150 trucks.
The case is ongoing.
Actions You Can Take
This step is crucial, don't just complain on forums! The sites below will actively manage your complaints and turn them into useful statistics. Both CarComplaints.com and the CAS will report dangerous trends to the authorities and are often called upon by law firms for help with Class Action lawsuits. Make sure to file your complaint on all three sites, we can't stress that enough.
Step 1: File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com
CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases. Add a Complaint
Step 2: Notify the Center for Auto Safety
The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits. Notify the CAS
Step 3: Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues. Report to NHTSA