In September 2023, Ford Motor Company began to receive reports that a specific batch of its 2023 F-150 Lightning pickup trucks failed to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards concerning their windshield defrosting and defogging systems. The root of the issue revolved around the electronic cabin coolant heater module. In certain cases, a solder joint was missing, which resulted in intermittent or complete loss of cabin heat. Furthermore, this problem rendered the windshield defrosting and defogging system inoperative.
This problem came to light during the manufacturing process of the 2023 F-150 BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) at the Ford assembly plant. Reports from plant personnel initially flagged an F-150 BEV vehicle exhibiting a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) indicating a communication breakdown with the electronic cabin coolant heater. As a result, Ford's Critical Concern Review Group (CCRG) was promptly alerted to investigate and address this issue.
An investigation was initiated by the CCRG to understand the cause of the problem. It was determined that during the manufacturing process of the electronic cabin coolant heater by one of Ford's suppliers, a crucial solder assembly operation had been omitted. Specifically, this omission pertained to one of the three low-voltage connectors on the Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA). The investigation team conducted a series of bench tests and vehicle drives, the results of which revealed that the absence of this solder joint could lead to erratic or non-existent functionality of the electronic cabin coolant heater. The extent of the malfunction depended on the positioning of the unsoldered low-voltage pin relative to the PCBA.
Subsequent investigation uncovered that the potential for a missing solder joint was limited to parts produced on the supplier's secondary assembly line, characterized by lower production volume. Parts produced on the primary assembly line did not exhibit this issue, assuaging concerns about a more widespread problem.
It's worth noting that the electronic cabin coolant heater is a pivotal component in ensuring passenger comfort and safety in the 2023 F-150 BEV. This system provides the necessary warmth for the vehicle's cabin and plays a vital role in ensuring that the windshield remains clear of frost and fog. However, vehicles with intermittently functioning or non-operational electronic cabin coolant heaters fail to meet the stringent requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, specifically those pertaining to windshield defrosting and defogging systems.
Ford is addressing this issue by initiating a recall, and vehicle owners affected by this problem will receive notification urging them to visit their local Ford dealership. At these authorized service centers, the electronic cabin coolant heater will be replaced, ensuring that all affected 2023 F-150 Lightning pickup trucks adhere to the safety standards mandated by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Ford's recall for this particular issue is designated as 23C32, and it is also associated with the NHTSA campaign number 23V-688.