Ford risks being called to the principal’s office again, the principal in this case the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The U.S. government agency’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has opened a Preliminary Evaluation on the 2018-2021 EcoSport, thanks to receiving 95 complaints about engine failures that owners have blamed on faulty oil pumps. All of the pertinent complaints focus on the 1.0-liter engine offered as the base engine for the years in question. In the U.S., the formerly optional 2.0-liter engine became the standard mill for the EcoSport’s final model year on the market here in 2022. Roughly 240,000 units are involved in the action.
Two complaints on NHTSA site’s 2021 EcoSport FWD page exemplify the trend. One from Texas in June of this year says the hatchback’s engine shut down after five minutes of driving, and only then the oil and check engine warning lights illuminated. The owner had the car towed to the dealer, the service department supposedly told the owner “the entire engine needs to be replaced due to a failed oil pump causing bearing failure. This is at 75,000 Miles.” In January in Tennessee, an owner “stated that while driving at 55 MPH, the low-pressure oil message appeared on the instrument panel. The contact pulled the vehicle off to the shoulder of the highway and had the vehicle towed to the dealer. Once at the dealer, a diagnostic test was performed and showed that the oil pump and the oil pump belt had malfunctioned, which resulted in engine damage. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 60,539.”
Recent stories on the recall might be leading to more complaints coming in. A new entry from September 18 from an owner in North Carolina talks about an incident in a 2020 EcoSport FWD from July 18, 2023. After the engine shut off on the highway, the owner had the EcoSport towed to a Ford dealer. There, it was “declared a total loss by Geico Insurance and Ford Mechanic Dept. The manager said these cars have a problem with oil pump failure and the result is engine failure. Car was towed to junkyard and next day Geico changed their mind from their responsibility of total loss. Geico said it’s all over the internet the oil pump failure issue with this vehicle, and that is it the responsibility of Ford to fix or total vehicle.”
An ODI investigation involves NHTSA engineers trying to determine if a recall is necessary. There’s no timeline for completion, so EcoSport owners — some of whom are still making payments — cannot know when there will be a resolution, nor what that resolution will be; the ODI can also close the investigation without further action. For example, the ODI began investigating the 2.7-liter EcoBoost in the Ford Bronco in May 2022 over an alleged valve issue, that evaluation remains ongoing. Meanwhile, a group of EcoSport owners with the affected engine filed a lawsuit in June of this year — with a 114-page filing — and are seeking class-action status.
In response to the EcoSport issue, a Ford spokesperson said the carmaker is “working with NHTSA to support their investigation.”