Breaking NHTSA Investigation On 2021 Ford Bronco Engine Failures


The 2021 Ford Bronco is currently under review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA’s review began in May of 2022 after receiving petitions from several consumers and 32 other complaints related to the issue.

Is the 2021 Ford Bronco Recalled?

There is no recall at this time, but the nature of the failures warrants keeping a close eye on the investigation for any Bronco owners. For now, the specific problem is isolated to Broncos equipped with the 2.7L Eco-Boost Ford engines available at higher trim levels. If you’re not sure if your vehicle is affected, you can input the Vehicle Identification Number on the NHTSA’s website.

This isn’t the first time that the 2021 Bronco has been the subject of review or recall. The automatic braking assistance radar in some Broncos and Rangers was misaligned, causing the feature to not work as intended. Frontal airbags in several hundred Broncos were faulty, opening too early during crashes. The child safety locks in all Broncos had to be inspected and potentially replaced since the doors could be opened from the cabin even with the locks activated.

2021 Ford Bronco Complaint Details

While the complaints have not been officially evaluated yet by the NHTSA, the symptoms reported by the filers are consistent with those of a dropped valve. The complaints describe a total loss of engine integrity. No casualties from the defect are reported, though some drivers have been put in potentially dangerous situations.

Complaint 11448171 describes how a driver had to coast to the side of the road after engine failure while on an interstate highway. One driver’s vehicle stalled before smoking heavily. Another owner reported sounds that they described as a dropped valve before the engine began suffering problems.

The valves sit above the combustion chamber, constantly moving and making contact with their valve seats and the hot fumes emitted by the engine. Exhaust valves experience much higher heat levels than intake valves, but both suffer a lot of stress. Over time, the heat and impacts can cause the valves or the seats to lose their integrity. A valve may snap and fall away after one too many cycles, the seat may break away, or the pair of components otherwise suffer damage.

Faulty valves can also break much earlier in the engine’s life cycle. One of the complainants suffered a catastrophic engine failure with only 2,322 miles put onto the vehicle. It’s possible to put an engine through a rough time within that amount of distance, but it still points to an underlying issue rather than normal wear and tear. While conjecture at this time, issues with the valve’s construction are a likely culprit.

If any of those pieces fall into the engine, they will wreak havoc on the block as the engine’s operation tosses the shards of metal throughout its interior. In most cases, the damage will be so severe that the engine is considered a total loss. While a dropped valve may not always occur at high speeds, the high heat from a faster operation does increase the risk and is considered linked to the problem in the 2.7L Ford engine,

Can you still drive your 2021 Ford Bronco?

Broncos without the 2.7L Eco-Boost engine are safe to drive for now. Those with the engine are taking the risk of causing serious damage to their engine and putting all passengers in danger.

Sticking to another vehicle until the investigation is processed would be sensible, but it may not be an option for all drivers. Since it’s a new vehicle suffering issues even at low mileage, Ford’s powertrain warranty should cover the cost if your Bronco drops a valve.