The NHTSA is investigating the 2017 Ford Super Duty because the pickup’s tailgate will randomly drop down while driving.
No carmaker likes a recall. They’re expensive, they’re bad publicity, and sometimes they’re so superfluous that you wonder why people just couldn’t fix the problem themselves. Lamborghini infamously had to replace the weight limit sticker on their Centenario to comply with government regulations, which seemed like a colossal waste of time and resources for everyone involved.
While Ford hasn’t issued a recall yet, an NHTSA investigation is a bad sign that something might be up that’s not just a missed payload sticker. And there are reports from Ford Super Duty customers that this is a real problem.
The issue is on 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks (that’s the F-250, F-350, and F-450) with power tailgates. Customers are stating that the tailgate will just fly open while in operation, which is a huge safety risk for both the truck and following vehicles. If the tailgate drops open, then the bed’s contents can come spilling out. On top of that, if the tailgate drops during operation it can damage the tailgate, taillights, and even the rear backup camera that’s mounted just above the tailgate handle.
According to Autoblog, Ford initially accused customers of hitting the tailgate button on their key fobs, blaming clumsy drivers for the issue. However, in October of 2017, the company issued a maintenance bulletin for all their dealerships to keep an eye out for 2017 Super Duty trucks with tailgate issues.
Entitled “Intermittent Electrical Concerns, Rear Parking Aid Camera Inop And/Or Uncommanded Tailgate Opening,” the bulletin advised dealer mechanics to “inspect connectors and replace the wire harness and include the time to remove/install the fuel tank, evaporative emission canister and replace one of the female side connectors."
The issue turned out to be water somehow making its way inside the tailgate and damaging the truck’s wire harness. This would cause the tailgate to randomly open, and would also make the backup camera lose connection to the cabin screen.
Multiple Super Duty owners have reported the issue on the Ford-Trucks.com forums, and the NHTSA already has 5 official complaints filed.
We haven’t heard from Ford on the issue, but a recall might be in the winds once the NHTSA wrap up their investigation.