2020 has been a magnet for newsworthy events. Bush fires burning what seemed like the entire continent of Australia, a global pandemic of a novel virus, the civil rights uprising of the century — the list goes on. With the wild ride that is this year, other news has gotten swept under the rug, including a major Ford F-150 headlight recall. (Trust me, with all that’s going on, this should get swept under the rug. But if you want to know more, I’m here to deliver.)

More than 217,000 trucks were part of the headlight recall

It’s time to get precise. In March, a whopping 217,185 Ford F-150 owners got wind that their pickup truck had a headlight recall. It affected anyone driving a 2018-2020 model year truck using the optional LED headlights.

The issue in particular affected the daytime running lights (DRL). Legally, a DRL set is supposed to dim when you manually turn on the low beams. If a DLR set fails to do so, it can cause inhibited visibility for oncoming drivers, ultimately increasing risk of collision. As it turned out, the Ford F-150 LED DLR set did fail to dim when it was supposed to.

166,196 of the recalled F-150 pickup trucks were from the United States. 50,989 of the trucks were from Canada.

The bad headlight plight goes beyond the Ford F-150

It’s easy for me to think the Ford F-150 is this perfect beast. I grew up riding in them; in fact, my dad still owns one. But this kind of headlight recall just goes to show that any vehicle is prone to technological quirks. Lately, bad headlights seem to be a common one.

Headlights all too often come out of the factory set too bright or too dim. Many of them are also overpriced, something drivers only realize once they go kaput on them.

There’s also the issue of “phantom vehicles,” something that stems directly from DRL installation. DRL usage reduces two-car collisions anywhere from 5-15%. However, it also leaves people to drive off into the night without any illumination from the rear because they’re just using the DRL system.

It’s kind of funny that automakers have such trouble with headlights, mostly because of major technological advancements like self-driving cars.

Ford’s next steps

Ever since the headlight recall for the Ford F-150, the automaker has been issuing complimentary upgrades to lighting software for any truck affected by the DRL issue. They’re notifying owners on an ongoing basis to bring their vehicle in for repair.

With 217,185 trucks to get through, this is a difficult — but necessary — feat. And if you’re one of those truck owners, stay alert on the road until it’s your turn in the bay.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    6 Comments

    1. WoW! 217,000 headlight recalls?! that’s almost all of them! Really makes me realized no matter how fancy or new a vehicle is, it does not eliminate the possibility of failures. As well as the issue of being overpriced. From now on I will be sure to do my research before making big purchases no matter how brand new it is.

    2. I had not heard of this. Thanks for bringing it up!

    3. For whatever reason, factory headlights have been failing and experiencing more recalls lately. With lights getting brighter and brighter it does feel like sometimes oncoming traffic or the lights behind me are too bright. It is getting harder and harder to tell if someone needs to turn off their brights. The idea that the lights could be malfunctioning is an interesting thought. Though Im sure that is not the case with all of them unfortunately.

    4. I have not heard of this. I asked my dad who drives an 18 F-150, he did not have an issue with his headlights. I guess he was one of the lucky ones.

    5. Great info!! I’m guessing some folks will avoid the recall fix and opt for the extra light 🙂

    6. Great article, Recalls are pretty common in the auto industry, And with new tech like LED headlights, it will probably be even more prevalent.

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