A nationwide News4 I-Team investigation found more than 200 drivers of the 2015-2016 Ford F-150 pickup trucks filed complaints with the government that the brakes on their trucks are failing without warning.
Most of the complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration share the same description: that the brakes push all the way to the floor and the vehicle does not stop.
Documents filed with NHTSA show Ford has been aware of the complaints since 2016 and has not issued a recall.
Chad Wampler said he was driving his 2015 Ford F-150 with his wife in Savannah, Georgia on vacation when his brakes completely failed.
Wampler, a Williamson County resident, said it happened repeatedly afterwards.
“It's a true safety defect that needs immediate attention,” Wampler said.
Wampler said his only warning was a brake light warning on his dashboard.
The News4 I-Team read every complaint filed with NHTSA about the Ford F150s in the 2015 and 2016 model years, and found complaints in 38 states.
Patrick Newsom, a Nashville attorney, is now advertising for Ford F-150s to contact him because of the number of drivers filing the complaints.
“You think about the devastating effects that could have on a family,” Newsom said.
In reading the complaints, drivers detail their experiences, saying the failing of the breaks caused one driver to almost hit the back of a school bus.
Others wrote that the failed brakes, “could have killed me,” and is, “a very big safety issue.”
Others describe crashes where minor injuries occurred.
Wampler said he considers himself lucky that he didn’t die.
In the internal documents sent from Ford to NHTSA, the company wrote in 2016 that they are aware complaints but, at the time, the failures were low compared to similar problems described by drivers in other model years.
But since then, the I-Team found the complaints ballooned, with drivers in California, Arizona and Colorado filing complaints about failing brakes in just the last two weeks.
Ford did issue a recall for certain 2013 and 2014 F-150s for similar complaints, but has not done the same for the 2015 and 2016 models.
In one brake failure description, the driver wrote, “The recall needs to be expanded.”
While it’s unclear exactly what’s causing the brakes the fail, repair invoices obtained by drivers or through NHTSA documents reveal that brake fluid was leaking from the master cylinder into other compartments, including vacuum cylinders and brake boosters.
The repair invoices suggest why there is no visible sign of a leak.
The News4 I-Team repeatedly asked Ford for an interview to discuss the complaints, but a spokeswoman denied our request.
The corporation instead sent a statement, reading, “We are cooperating with NHTSA, as we always do. We take the safety of our customers very seriously and utilize data to determine which vehicles are included in recalls. When the data indicates a recall is needed, we act quickly on behalf of our customers. We recommend owners experiencing an issue to contact their dealer or Ford customer service.”
Wampler ultimately paid $1800 for the repairs and traded in for a newer Ford pickup.
Wampler said he’s loyal to the company, but is questioning the loyalty of the company to its customers.
If you’d like to research the complaints to NHTSA, you can begin here by looking at the complaints in the 2015 Ford F-150s and searching “service brakes.”