Why Does Ford Have Such A Bad Reputation?

Why Has Ford Received Negative Reception?

An automotive company’s reputation is only as good as the vehicles it produces. Unfortunately for Ford, it’s been through a lot of turmoil, particularly concerning the reliability of its products. Despite being one of the largest automakers, the company has faced constant backlash for several manufacturing defects and recalls — we are talking about dozens of recalls, slowly turning Ford into a bottom-dweller on the list of the most reliable car companies.

Today, the American giant sits far below other prominent automakers, such as Toyota and Honda, only ranking 21st out of 32 car brands. Its overall reliability rating is 3.5 out of 5.0, which is not particularly impressive.

Therefore, if you own a Ford, we can only recommend you get your hands on a trusted Ford factory service manual, just to be on the safe side. Popular models such as the Escape or the Explorer are known to break down quite often, so having a manual will help you come out of tricky situations. 

However, let’s not be too harsh on the company that started it all — it’s not all bad for the brand either. Over the years, the Blue Oval did introduce a few changes and reforms to its lineup, and as a result, some of its models are among the highest-ranked in terms of reliability.

Still, the question remains, what made Ford lose its grip and develop such a bad reputation among customers worldwide?

Numerous Recalls Over the Years

Probably the most crucial factor that put a massive dent in Ford’s once pristine reputation is its recalls. To be precise, the American giant still holds the industry record for recalling a whopping 21 million vehicles due to a safety defect in the FMX, JATCO, C-3, C-4, and C-6 automatic transmissions between 1976 and 1980.

In particular, the transmission wouldn’t engage to Park, which is obviously risky when the vehicle isn’t on a flat surface. Ford’s negligence caused more than 6,000 accidents, 1,700 injuries, and over 98 deaths. 

Curiously, the company didn’t even recall the vehicles at first and instead only notified the customers. Even worse, the company knew about the issue for over a decade, yet decided not to act on it, as the design improvement would’ve cost 3 cents per vehicle. Yup, Ford didn’t have a problem with people dying from transmission deficiencies — it only cared about profit.

Furthermore, there have been several model-specific recalls over the years. For instance, Ford called back 1.4 million Ford Fusions over a defective steering wheel that kept coming off. In fact, the issue was so severe you will find it mentioned in any updated Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) section in the Ford workshop manuals for the model.

And, let’s not forget about the company’s most infamous model, the Pinto, an actual bomb on wheels. Indeed, the Pinto is now notorious for bursting into flames if rear-ended or when the gas tank ruptured in a collision. Ford’s lack of quality control and a hasty production process left hundreds of owners injured.

Still, what really stands out in this story is the manufacturer’s negligence, even after repeated complaints and reports of lost lives. 

Even worse, instead of fixing the Pinto, Ford settled the dispute by paying for the lawsuit, showcasing that the company valued profit much more than its customers. It was simply one of the most unethical decisions taken by an automaker.

Even the Bronco situation was getting out of hands for the automaker. The Bronco II came with a problematic suspension system that caused the vehicle to roll over. Eventually, the Bronco II was recalled in 1983, alongside 7110 other Ford vehicles worldwide — not mentioning several other recalls, including popular models such as the Explorer and Expedition.

Reliability Issues

As demonstrated above, reliability isn’t particularly a strong point for the American automaker, significantly lagging behind its Japanese and Korean rivals. According to JD Power, Ford’s overall dependability is only rated 2 out of 5, which is quite low compared to market leaders. Sure, the Blue Oval does stand tall among other American companies such as Chevrolet but has a long way to go to match the reliability of Asian vehicles.

Even its best-selling models, such as the F-150, tend to suffer from reliability issues. With time, the truck’s ten-speed transmission starts to develop issues, slowly turning into a financial nightmare for the owner. Apart from that, oil leaks are more than frequent after a few years.

The issues even extend to smaller Ford vehicles like the Escape and EcoSport. Consumer Report cites several transmission problems and sudden losses of power, apparently due to a faulty EGR sensor.

Even the Edge, which was once considered the most reliable Ford vehicle by the organization, has now faced two recalls over a malfunctioning seatbelt assembly and powertrain failures.

Apart from that, countless other problems affect Ford vehicles in the long run that cause repair costs to skyrocket over time.

Luckily there’s a fix for that. Indeed, a good Ford technical service manual can help keep repair expenses light on the pocket. How? These manuals come with every troubleshooting and replacement procedure you’ll need to fix your vehicle. Not so sure where to find one? Take a look at eManualOnline; you’ll thank me later.

Have Things Changed Lately?

All that criticism and frequent lawsuits did make Ford change its ways. For the past 20 years, the manufacturer has slowly but constantly climbed the quality and reliability ladder. I say “slowly” because it sure came a long way from its horrible reputation of making overpriced and rather unsafe vehicles. 

Today, the automaker is more focused than ever on improving its customer experience, heavily relying on data collected from thousands of Ford owners. The information collected helps product developers and engineers scrutinize every newly manufactured model, hoping to reach nothing but perfection. 

Ford is also aboard the EV bandwagon, bringing a significant contribution with the Mustang Mach E and the F-150 Lightning that President Biden himself took for a drive. The American giant also claims no shortage of sophisticated technology and safety systems on its products, built by taking past mishaps into account.

Last Words

All in all, Ford has stepped up its game, and it’s high time you do the same. Whether you own a Ford or any other automaker, it is bound to break down at some point, no matter how hard the manufacturer works to make it reliable. No need to mention that the best way to keep your car in good working order is to stay on top of the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals, and for that, you’ll need a Ford car manual.

Always remember that it is knowledge and skill that push companies and individuals to the next level. And a manual will help you acquire that and become a better version of yourself, just like Ford, a company that learned from its mistakes and continues to play a big part in the automotive industry.

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