In the first month — that would be January 2019 — Ford sold 2,153 Ranger trucks in North America. Not bad. But then they had to recall 3500 of them:
The issue involves the truck’s shifter, which can move out of “park” while the engine is off. The automaker claims “the PRNDL bezel wiring may interfere with the shifter interlock override, preventing the shifter from locking in the park position and allowing the driver to shift the transmission out of park with the vehicle off and without a foot on the brake pedal.”
Of the 3,500 recalled vehicles, some 500 or so are located in Canada. The affected trucks rolled out of Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant between June 4th, 2018, and Jan. 9th, 2019, with the automaker claiming it isn’t aware of any accidents or injuries resulting from the fault.
Obviously some of the affected trucks are still on dealer lots, unsold. Perhaps not quite so obvious is Ford’s longstanding inability to make a PRNDL work correctly:
On June 10, 1980, NHTSA made an initial determination of defect in Ford vehicles with C-3, C-4, C-6, FMX, and JATCO automatic transmissions. The alleged problem with the transmissions is that a safety defect permits them to slip accidentally from park to reverse. As of the date of determination, NHTSA had received 23,000 complaints about Ford transmissions, including reports of 6,000 accidents, 1,710 injuries, and 98 fatalities — primarily the young and old, unable to save themselves — directly attributable to transmission slippage … this defect finding eventually resulted in a pseudo-recall wherein Ford agreed to mail warning labels to 23 million owners of Fords with these transmissions rather than recall them for mechanical repair.
Factor out the bathos — one can rather easily imagine the headline “WORLD ENDS: Women and minorities hardest hit” — and you’re still left with “What the hell were they thinking?” And the mention of JATCO puts the cherry on top: Ford apparently bought some transmissions from JATCO, Nissan’s in-house transmission maker, and somehow managed to mess those up too.
For the record, the one Ford I have owned, a 1984 Mercury Cougar, had a C5 slushbox, which was essentially the C4 with a lockup torque converter; it was the one powertrain component that never gave me any grief.