The Ford Bronco 2021 model year was much anticipated, but it looks like owners of the cars from the model year may have a case against Ford. Aside from threads on Reddit and forums such as Bronco6g, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated that it has received official complaints of total engine failure from 32 owners of the Bronco 2021.
The engine in question is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine which was initially used in the F-150 model but is now standard in the 2021 Bronco Wildtrak and First Edition trims. The engine is optional on all Bronco trims, with the exceptions being the 2022 Bronco Everglades and Raptor trims, and this makes it popular among all Bronco trims. The 2.7-liter engine packs a lot of power at 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque; this makes it more powerful than the base 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder, which has 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.
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All Fingers Point to a “Faulty Valve”
With official complaints filed with the NHTSA, the government agency responsible for ensuring the safety and roadworthiness of vehicles driven in the United States, the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation has launched an investigation into the complaints and petitions that the NHTSA has received. In May 2022, the NHTSA received three separate petitions from three different owners of the Bronco 2021 models regarding their vehicle’s engine failure.
In this vein, the NHTSA has released a document on its investigations and, in that document, described its immediate findings: “Under normal driving conditions, without warning, the vehicle may experience a loss of motive power without restart due to catastrophic engine failure related to a faulty valve.” Going by this statement, it seems that the NHTSA believes that the failure of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine in the 2021 Bronco is related to a faulty valve in said engine. The NHTSA has determined that the failed engines did so disastrously, such that the cars failed to restart after numerous attempts were made.
As noted earlier, owners of the 2021 Ford Bronco trims, which use the 2.7-liter engine, have complained on Reddit and Bronco6g. One owner stated that the engine had a “dropped valve, which caused the engine to seize up.”
More on the Engine Failure
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the engines failing is that most of the cars whose engines have failed have driven just a few miles. This user on Bronco6g, who started a thread for fellow Bronco 2021 owners with defective engines to get resources on repairs, Ford’s response to their complaints, and other related discussions, drove his car for only four months and 7000 miles. This Reddit user had only driven 2000 miles with their faulty 2021 Bronco Badlands.
Regardless of the mileage driven, the experience is mostly the same for all Bronco 2021 owners affected by the engine defect–the Bronco 2021 equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine suddenly loses power, with little to no prior indication or problem, then the car is towed to the dealer where it is confirmed that the problem is with the engine’s valvetrain.
The question remains: Is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine the problem, or is it a case of bad parts from suppliers making some engines faulty?
A now-deleted account on Bronco6g that claimed to be a worker at Ford’s Lima engine plant in Ohio where the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine is produced posted that “it was a bad batch of valves from the vendor.” This deleted user claimed that Ford narrowed the window on engines that could be affected, but the bad valves were mostly limited to an April 2021 batch. The user claimed the bad valves might have used metal that became brittle over time as they were exposed to heat from the engine.
The claims made by the deleted user are still unverified. Still, it is interesting to note that the January 2022 bulletin for Ford’s Lima plant confirms an issue with the supplier of the Nano valves (i.e., the valves used in Ford’s Nano engine, where the Nano engine is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine). The “State of the Plant” bulletin states that Ford had resolved the issue with material changes to the valve and a “more robust design”.
Ford’s Response to the Engine Failure
Although the NHTSA has launched an investigation into the complaints and claims about the faulty 2.7-liter engine, it does not seem like Ford is leaning toward recalling the vehicles that are potentially affected by the defective engine. This unwillingness to recall the potentially affected cars remains the case even as Ford has stated that 25,538 Broncos are potentially affected; it seems that the automaker is more concerned with the costs it would incur if it takes that decision.
A spokesperson from Ford explained to The Drive that Ford is investigating the issue, and customers who experience the engine failure will be covered under the vehicle’s 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Ford has also stated that they will cooperate with the NHTSA to further the agency’s investigation into the faulty engines and ensure that the investigation runs smoothly with as few hindrances as possible.
Despite Ford’s statement that affected customers are covered by the Bronco 2021’s 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, it appears that affected owners have received varying offers and solutions. A Bronco6g user claims he received an 84-month/100,000-mile warranty after negotiations with Ford, although he states that he already had an extended warranty before Ford’s offer. Another user posted that Ford offered either one month’s payment for costs incurred when fixing the engine (even though the user stated that the Bronco was out of his possession for two months) or an extended powertrain warranty.
For Affected Bronco 2021 Owners
Some drivers of affected Broncos have alleged that they lost power while driving at highway speeds; this could cause severe accidents if an engine fails on the highway or other populated areas. If your 2021 Ford Bronco is affected by the engine failure, ensure that you report the problem to Ford and then to the NHTSA via their website.