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The Ford Motor Co. recently issued a recall of about 25,000 vehicles due to a problem with the pre-collision feature. In the affected vehicles, the feature is not enabled. Drivers who are not aware of the defect may rely on a system that is not functional, increasing the risk of a crash.

Pre-Collision Assist Feature Not Enabled on Some Vehicles

The vehicles affected in this recall include the 2020 models of the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator. The vehicles are equipped with a camera-only Pre-Collision Assist feature. Those vehicles that have the optional radar-plus-camera Pre-Collision Assist system are not affected according to Ford.

Due to the incorrect coding of interfacing modules, the feature is not enabled on these vehicles. Also, the driver cannot access the menu functions necessary to enable it.

The Pre-Collision Assist feature uses camera technology to detect a potential collision with a vehicle or pedestrian directly in front of the vehicle during day or nighttime driving. It can help reduce the severity of, and in some cases eliminate, a frontal collision. If the system detects a potential collision, it will emit an alert sound and will display a warning message in the message center.

If the driver doesn’t respond quickly, the automatic emergency braking (AEB) will precharge and increase brake-assist sensitivity to provide full responsiveness when the driver does brake. If the driver doesn’t take action and a collision is imminent, the brakes can apply automatically.

Also called forward-collision warnings, systems like these have been in many vehicles starting in 2015. In a Consumer Reports survey, over half of the respondents (54 percent) stated they trusted the system to work every time.

Ford will notify owners of the problem, and dealers will fix the issue by reprogramming software to enable the feature. The recall began on May 25, 2020. Owners can contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332 and refer to Ford recall number 20S20.

Studies Show Crash-Avoidance Technologies Helping to Reduce Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that the vast majority of vehicle crashes are tied to human error and that new driver assistance technologies like the Pre-Collision Assist feature “hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives a year.”

The administration suggests consumers look for these types of features when purchasing a new vehicle, and note that different manufacturers may use different names for them. “Pre-Collision Assist feature” is Ford’s name for its forward collision warning, which warns the driver of a potential collision in front of a vehicle, and applies for braking support if warranted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) notes that advanced crash avoidance features are becoming widespread, and that front crash prevention systems have been shown to reduce front-to-rear crashes. These technologies are improving every year. According to a recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, the combination of improvements in front crash prevention in various BMW models, along with the addition of adaptive cruise control, resulted in “large reductions in the frequency of property damage liability and bodily injury liability claims.”


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