Ford F Series Power Tailgate Innovation, Defect & What Consumers are Saying
Automobile makers these days are constantly searching to enhance their vehicles with the latest and greatest innovative features. We’ve often heard about a power liftgate—a motorized hatch that functions electronically instead of manually— but it isn’t until more recently that we’ve seen power tailgates.
Manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge have started to implement this feature in their trucks to keep up with the times, but for Ford, this component may be setting the company back instead of pushing it forward.
Many consumers have experienced issues with the power tailgates on models such as the F-250, F-350, and F-450. Complaints primarily include unintended tailgate opening and closing. This is not only dangerous for the driver of the vehicle, but for other vehicles on the road—as these trucks are generally purchased because of their capability to hold cargo—which could easily fall out in the event of a tailgate malfunction.
One consumer noted that he faced this issue on 16 different occasions, completely independent of whether the car was operating at a high speed, low speed, or if the vehicle was parked.
This signifies that the tailgate does not malfunction at a particular point, but it is somewhat random. In rare cases, consumers have reported the tailgate completely falling off of the vehicle due to this defect. Consumers across the country felt a sense of relief to see that they were not alone in their experiences.
The number of complaints from consumers quickly caught the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched its preliminary investigation of these vehicles in late 2018.
2018 NHTSA Ford Power Tailgate Malfunction Investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was established in 1970 with the purpose of protecting civilians by regulating vehicle safety standards and regulations along with other related activities.
The NHTSA opened its preliminary investigation of the Ford Super Duty trucks power tailgate defect on October 12, 2018. The allegations of vehicle owners were enough for the government agency to take a deeper look at what could be a major safety issue.
The investigation process entails an assessment of the data from the manufacturer such as warranty claims, reports, and potential design changes.
The goal of this type of investigation is to find the source of the problem and to help develop the solution for this problem. It did not take the NHTSA too long to find the cause—water entering the electrical wiring system of the tailgate.
This could cause the system to short circuit, sequentially activating the tailgate switch and causing the malfunction. Through the analysis of the data that Ford provided to the government agency, they discovered that the prevalence of this issue was a lot higher than they had anticipated. The most serious safety hazard that the NHTSA found was that the loss of unstrapped cargo could fly out of the back of the vehicle while it is in motion—potentially causing a crash and serious injury to those affected.
In response to these findings, Ford decided to release a recall in an effort to stop this issue from transpiring.
2019 Ford Power Tailgate Recall
On December 4th, 2019, Ford Motor Company released Recall 19V-864, ending the 2018 NHTSA investigation. On December 5th, Ford notified all dealerships of this recall and on January 20th, 2020,
Ford notified 2017-2019 Super Duty Truck owners of the remedy for this problem by mail. Ford provided a reimbursement plan for those who had taken care of this problem prior to the release of the recall.
The remedy for this issue includes the addition of a wiring harness jumper. This jumper functions by separating the power and ground circuits through different connectors. Theoretically, this modification is intended to prevent water from entering the release switch in the tailgate and electrical system—which would then stop the component from short-circuiting and malfunctioning. Unfortunately for Ford, this did not fix the issue as many consumers still experienced this after having the recall performed on their vehicles.
Not only did this recall fail, but it failed to include all affected vehicles in the recall, including 2020 and 2021 Ford F-250s, F-350s, and F-450s. Many consumers believe that Ford knew about this issue long before the recall was released and even went as far as to conceal this defect. Due to rising complaints among Super Duty Truck owners, the NHTSA reopened its investigation on these vehicles in January of 2021.
While this was a step in the right direction and a beacon of hope for Super Duty truck owners, they decided to take matters into their own hands by filing a class-action lawsuit in April of 2021 since Ford has yet to provide a solution for this issue.
2021 Ford Power Tailgate Lawsuit
Ford F-Series trucks remain the most popular truck on the market, specifically for those looking for a reliable and strong vehicle to transport cargo. Unfortunately, this defect makes the vehicle extremely unreliable and unfit for transporting anything in the truck bed.
For this reason, William Cunningham decided to file a nationwide class-action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company in Michigan on April 7th of 2021.
The Ford tailgate lawsuit highlights many different things that Ford Motor Company did not take responsibility for; however, it focuses on the fact that Ford knew about this issue with these vehicles and continued to sell and advertise them to consumers.
The recall that was released in late 2019 failed to include model years 2020 and 2021 which also suffer from this known defect. The lawsuit also states that the tailgate defect causes these vehicles to randomly release whatever cargo may be in the truck bed.
Due to this, the Super Duty Trucks are incapable of performing what they are specifically advertised to do—transport people, animals, and haul large amounts of equipment safely, efficiently, and reliably.
They are not capable of towing heavy loads or equipment either. This along with the statement that Ford concealed its knowledge of this defect, are blatantly stated in the lawsuit. It is also mentioned that the original issue that was found to cause the malfunction may not even be the problem. The lawsuit alleges that it could be due to a faulty wiring system in general, or the latch may not be as strong as advertised—meaning it could be too weak to stop the accidental opening of the tailgate.
Many Super Duty Truck owners believe that the recall on these vehicles was used to distract consumers from the fact that Ford does not have a solution for this issue.
This did not stop consumer William Cunningham from taking action and filing the class action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company. Cunningham noted that while he was notified of the safety recall, he was never fully informed of the defect itself and the potential hazards that follow. Ford has allegedly known about this issue since 2017 when they began releasing Technical Service Bulletins on the issue.
Whatever the case may be, these vehicles are not fit for their original purpose—so if you own a Ford Super Duty truck between the years 2017 and 2021, you deserve the safety and reliability promised by the manufacturer.
What To Do If You’ve Experienced Ford Tailgate Issues
Maybe you have experienced Power Tailgate Issues with your vehicle, or maybe you have yet to experience these issues but are worried that you may soon.
It is crucial to stay informed on known defects in your vehicle!
At the Lemon Law Experts, great help is just a phone call away. Our team of California lemon law attorneys has been helping California consumers with their automobile lemon law claims for over a decade.
Below is a brief list of what you should do if you have experienced issues with your Ford Power Tailgate:
- Pay attention to what specifically occurs when your vehicle malfunctions.
- Take your vehicle in for repairs at an authorized Ford dealership.
- Make sure all your concerns are noted accurately by the authorized service dealership on the repair records.
- Keep copies of all your repair records and receipts!
If you have taken your vehicle to the dealership for warranty repair work related to these issues on two or more separate occasions, you may have a lemon under California Lemon Law and you could be entitled to a refund!
List of Affected Ford Vehicles
- 2017-2021 Ford F-250 Super Duty
- 2017-2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty
- 2017-2021 Ford F-450 Super Duty
Contact the Lemon Law Experts Today!
We do not charge you for our representation and our consultations are always fast and free.
At our law firm, Lemon Law is all that we do. We have the proven track record, results, and team to provide you with excellent lemon law representation to get you the results you deserve.