This Busted Part Allows Ford's Doors to Fly Open While Driving

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#exterior #recall
Side view of a gray Ford sedan

Pretty surprised these doors are still closed TBH

Inside your car’s door handle there is a pawl, a mechanical device that latches the door in place and stops it from randomly opening. A pawl spring is also there to help bring the door handle back into place when you release it.

Both are generally simple, historically effective, and the unsung heroes of your car’s door handle. That is, unless you drive a Ford.

Lately it seems the motor city automaker can’t get a handle on their door handle problems.

The "Pawl Spring" Problem

The first investigation into handle problems started back in September 2014 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into complaints about doors flying open in the 2011-2013 Fiesta. It didn’t take long for the investigation to expand to include the 2013 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ as well.

The investigation discovered potential defects in Ford’s pawl spring tab, which never properly latched the doors shut.

Pawl Spring Recalls

By the following April, Ford recalled 390,000 vehicles with busted pawl springs. The following month they expanded the recall to include another 156,000.

But it didn’t stop there.

Soon other Ford owners started complaining about their doors coming open randomly, kicking back when they went to shut them, or leaving an ever-lasting door ajar light on the dashboard. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that most of the Ford cars built around this time all used the same defective pawl springs.

Ford was defiant, however, and didn’t issue any further recalls.

But when 400,000 Focus vehicles were put under investigation and attorneys started looking into legal ramifications of Ford’s door handle problems, they buckled a bit.

The automaker issued a large but regional recall for 830,000 vehicles in areas it said had “higher ambient temperatures and solar loading.”

Fun fact: solar loading apparently means “please don’t make us recall this problem nationally.” Who knew?

A month later in September 2016, Ford caved and recalled 2.3 million vehicles for busted door latches.

The Cold Isn’t Helping Either

As if Ford's latches needed another foe, owners started complaining about the cold causing the latches to freeze.

When the temperature dropped, the latches wouldn’t fully engage the door striker, allowing the door to fly open even when the it appears to be closed.

Additionally, owners complained that a properly latched door could freeze in place and lock them inside their truck.

In April 2015, Ford issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB 15-0052) addressing the issue:

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.

The TSB recommended fully removing the door panel (ugh) 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 Frozen Latch Lawsuit

Fed up with frozen latches, Brandon Kommer filed a lawsuit in New York saying the “Built Ford Tough” slogan is a joke when you can’t even close your doors in the cold.

The lawsuit was dismissed, however, because the judge said the slogan is simple marketing “puffery” and should be assumed to include some exaggeration on part of the automaker.

Frozen Handle Truck Recall

While the lawsuit went up in flames, Ford did eventually decide to recall 1.3 million trucks for frozen door latches in October 2017.

Ford dealers will install water shields over the door latches and repair any kinked door latch actuation cables. Until repairs are made, truck owners should double-check their doors to ensure they are properly closed.

The recalled 2015-2017 Ford F-150 trucks were built in Kansas City and Michigan, and the 2017 Super Duty trucks were manufactured in Kentucky.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Settlement

    Brandon Kommer, et al, v. Ford Motor Company.

    1. Settlement

      A Ford door latch settlement has been finalized after a truck owner claimed the door latches on the following F-Series trucks may malfunction during freezing temperatures and cause the doors to not open, not close or to suddenly open while driving.

    2. Partially dismissed

      The judge granted all of Ford's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but said Kommer can proceed with one claim (misrepresentation-by-omission) if he files an amended complaint within thirty days.

    3. Case Filed

      A Ford F-150 door latch lawsuit alleges cold weather and freezing temperatures prevent the doors from being closed or locked, especially in the cold state of New York.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2015-2017 F-150
    Class Members
    Current and former owners and lessees in NY
    New York

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Ford generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. 2012–13 Ford Focus owners made enough noise about their unreliable doors to spark an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in January.

    The owners were tired of their doors flying open while driving, the "door ajar" light never turning off, and whatnot. The investigation found that the problem ran much deeper and it eventually led to a recall of 2.3 million vehicles spread out across 6 Ford and Lincoln models, including the Focus.

    Now that the investigation is closing, we'd like to raise a glass of eggnog – the spiked variety – to the owners who filed their complaints online and got the problem fixed.

    More details about the recall→

    keep reading article "Focus Door Latch Investigation Closed Following Recall"
  2. Ford has once again expanded a door handle recall, this time affecting 2.3 million vehicles.

    It's likely NHTSA asked Ford to expand the recall because all affected vehicles weren't included in the August recall. That recall was for only certain areas of the country which Ford said had higher ambient temperatures. Vehicles outside those specific areas weren't included in the recall, but Ford said they could be included in a "customer satisfaction program.

    So much for the "solar loading" defense.

    keep reading article "Goodbye Regional, Hello Nationwide Recall of Ford Door Handles"
  3. Ford is having a problem keeping its vehicle's doors closed, prompting another massive recall.

    If they keep it up, they might have trouble keeping their doors open too. Ford says about 830,000 vehicles in North America need fixes to stop the doors from popping open while driving. This isn't the automaker's first time dealing with this problem. In 2015 they recalled nearly 550,000 vehicles for a similar issue.

    Unlike the previous recall, however, this one will only take place in what Ford is calling areas of "higher ambient temperature."…

    keep reading article "A Recall to Keep Doors Closed While Driving"
  4. **Fo

    d's pawl spring issues have had their doors blown wide open. Yes, I went there. Ford says a recall of 830,000 vehicles in North America is needed to fix doors that may open while driving, but only if those vehicles are in certain areas.

    This comes after the feds opened an investigation into 400,000 Focus cars experiencing similar problems to a door latch recall from last year.…

    keep reading article "Regional Recall For Another 830,000 Vehicles with Busted Pawl Springs"
  5. A Ford Focus door latch lawsuit might be forthcoming as attorneys investigate failures of the door latches that allow the doors to open while driving.

    The legal investigation includes the 2012-2013 Ford Focus, the same model currently under a safety investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    This isn't surprising.

    If the current investigation determines that the Focus uses the same defective pawl springs that were recalled last year, and Ford knew about it, then that's potentially a criminal offense. Or, at the very least, really crappy of them.

    keep reading article "Attorneys Investigate Ford’s History of Door Latch Failures"
  6. 2015 was a terrible year for Ford door latches. 2016 isn't starting off any better.

    Ford Focus door latch problems are under investigation by the government, an investigation that could possibly lead to a recall of 400,000 Ford Focus cars.

    The original investigation involved the Fiesta. It was later expanded to include the Fusion. And now the 2012-2013 Focus will get an investigation of their own.

    The problem can be traced to busted pawl springs which allow the door to shut without ever latching. When that happens, owners may see a "door ajar" warning light or have their doors open while going around a corner.

    My guess is the investigation will be to determine if the Focus used the same pawl springs as the other cars. If so, Focus owners should expect a recall soon.

    keep reading article "Ford Focus is the Next in Line for a Door Latch Investgation"
  7. The pawl spring problem continues to grow, as Ford has announced an expansion of their previous door latch recall.

    That recall is now expanded by 156,000 cars bringing the total to almost 546,000 cars recalled for door latch problems. The expanded recall includes the 2011-14 Ford Fiesta, 2013-14 Ford Fusion and 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ vehicles.

    The question becomes, how many other Ford vehicles use the same defective pawl springs?

    keep reading article "Ford's Door Latch Recall Expands by Another 156,000 Cars"
  8. Following an investigation into door latch failures in Ford Fiesta small cars and later expanded to include the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, Ford is recalling about 390,000 of those cars to replace the door latches.

    Ford says the affected model years are the 2012-2014 Ford Fiesta, 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ.

    The expanded investigation found issues with the pawl spring tabs, which can break and allow the doors to open while driving. Needless to say, that's a safety no-no and led to the recall.

    keep reading article "390,000 Ford and Lincoln Cars Recalled for Doors That Fly Open While Driving"
  9. Add the 2013 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ to the list of vehicles being investigated for door latch issues.

    Complaints have kept pouring in since the original investigation was opened, and now the government says 207 reports have been filed with NHTSA and another 451 reports were filed directly with Ford. NHTSA says 65 of its complaints claim the doors opened while the cars were in motion.

    The original investigation was opened late last year.

    keep reading article "Fiesta Door Latch Investigation Expanded to Include the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ"
  10. The feds have opened a "preliminary investigation" into 6th-generation Fiesta door latch concerns.

    "The government says it's received 61 complaints about doors that won't latch in the 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta. Some Fiesta owners said the doors opened after being shut and while the cars were moving. One person reported an injury after the door flew back open and struck the individual."…

    keep reading article "Investigation Opened Into Fiesta Doors That Open When They Shouldn't"

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint 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
  2. Notify CAS

    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
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    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