Feds open investigation into Ford F-150 brakes

Federal auto-safety regulators have launched an investigation into the safety of brakes on certain versions of the Ford F-150 pickup truck, the most popular vehicle in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing what vehicle owners have described as "sudden and complete loss" of braking in 3.5-liter engine versions of the 2015 and 2016 model-year F-150, according to an internal document posted to NHTSA's site.

The agency said it had received 10 reports of symptoms on 2015 model-year vehicles and 15 reports on 2016 vehicles. The investigation covers about 282,000 pickups.

The complaints resemble each other, though there are a few differences. In the 2015 pickups, "complaints allege symptoms of brake pedal going to the floor with sudden and complete loss of brake effectiveness, brake warning lamp illumination, and/or low or empty brake fluid level," according to NHTSA.

In the 2016 trucks, "complaints allege a sudden and complete loss of brakes without the brake warning lamp illumination and low brake fluid level," the agency noted.

NHTSA said it opened an investigation "to assess the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect in the subject vehicles."

In May, Ford issued a recall to fix the loss of braking on 2013 and 2014 model-year F-150 pickups with 3.5-liter engines built from August 2013 through August 2014 — a defect stemming from what Ford said was a loss of brake fluid from the brake master cylinder reservoir into the brake booster.

Complaints about the 2015 model-year pickups "are consistent with the symptoms associated with" that recall, according to NHTSA. But the 2016 vehicle complaints are different, and Ford dealers have allegedly "diagnosed the problem as a failure of the master cylinder," according to NHTSA.

"We will cooperate with NHTSA on these investigations, as we always do," Ford spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said in a statement. "Ford is committed to delivering top quality in our vehicles. We continuously evaluate our processes for potential improvements and when the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers."

Weigandt said Ford has not launched a recall to fix brake issues on the 2015 and 2016 F-150.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


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