Ford Recalls Broncos Due to Difficult-to-Use Seatbelts — And Because the Wheels Might Fall Off

  • You might want to reconsider if you’re eyeing the newest Ford Bronco.

It’s (unfortunately) not uncommon at all for car manufacturers to recall their vehicles because of manufacturing issues. Sometimes, though, the scale of the recalls or their reasons really make you think.

For example, Ferrari recalled practically every car they’ve made since 2005 because of brake issues. Now, Ford has shown that American manufacturers can mess up big time as well.

The 2023 Ford Bronco currently has multiple recalls, but three of them are pretty mind-boggling. The first issue is with the seatbelts.

They are apparently so difficult to buckle that people are just saying “f*** it” and not using them. That’s not a good look for Ford, so they’ve recalled certain vehicles to address the problem.

The second issue is with the steering wheel. Some Bronco Wildtrak and Raptor cars have a cracked component in the steering system that could render the cars uncontrollable.

Finally, certain Broncos have a bit of a problem with the driver’s side front wheel — somebody forgot to tighten the bolts. The entire wheel could fall and has fallen off.

Yeah, maybe don’t buy a 2023 Bronco.

An artist’s impression of a Ford Bronco moments before its wheel fell off, steering locked, and the passengers flew through the windshield.

The Seatbelts

Let’s take a closer look at these issues, starting with the seatbelt problem. This is the least serious issue on the list — which is a bit of an understatement since it could still kill people.

Ford has recalled 176,000 Broncos, from model years 2021 to 2023, due to a note from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They found that the seatbelts are too difficult to use.

More specifically, when the seatbelt retracts, the tongue (that’s the metal latch you put in the buckle) can become lodged in a ridiculously difficult-to-reach position. The latch can be so hard to get to that a lot of people are apparently just not bothering with it.

“The customer may experience some dissatisfaction or be discouraged if they are unable to easily access the seatbelt … in its stowed position,” the NHTSA said according to CNN.

The issue seems to only affect the Bronco’s five-door model. Additionally, according to Ford, it only becomes a problem in certain seat positions.

Fortunately, the problem is easy to fix. You can attach a barrette clip on the belt that keeps it from retracting all the way back and making it easier to reach.

Still, better safe than sorry. We’re sure Ford doesn’t need the bad publicity from people getting hurt for not wearing their impossible-to-use seatbelts.

The Steering Wheel

The second recall was filed in March of this year. That problem isn’t as widespread — according to Ford, it concerns only 343 Bronco Wildtrak and Bronco Raptor models.

It’s a whole hell of a lot more serious than the seatbelt issue, though. At the root of the problem is a small plastic ball nut retainer housed within the cars’ steering system.

As it turns out, there was some kind of manufacturing mishap at Ford’s Michigan factory. We’re not sure what happened, but the ball nut retainer in the affected vehicles is damaged straight out of the plant.

Consequently, it could theoretically crack at any moment. Should that happen, the steering wheel would lock in place — making it impossible to control the car.

Now imagine that happening on a busy highway.

Because of the extremely serious nature of the issue, Ford has asked owners of the affected vehicles to not use them. The company will replace the part for free.

If you suspect your car might be affected by this issue, you can enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into Ford’s recall system to check whether your vehicle has a broken retainer.

The Wheels

And finally, we have the last (but not least) issue. This one affects 1,434 2023 Ford Bronco and Ranger models.

You see, there was another little oopsie-poopsie at the Michigan plant in February this year. The machine Ford uses to tighten the lug nuts on its cars’ rider-side front wheels broke.

So, while they were repairing the machine, Ford put in a “manual backup process.” Which means the staff tightened the nuts by hand.

Only, they apparently didn’t do a very good job with it. On some cars, the nuts are so loose that they could fall off — followed by the entire wheel.

We know that because it’s happened. According to Ford, the left front wheel has come loose on at least two Broncos. Fortunately, no one has been injured.

There are a couple of ways to fix the problem. If you have your own torque wrench, you might want to go and tighten the nuts on your Bronco’s wheels, just in case.

If you don’t have a wrench or don’t want to mess with the wheels, Ford will send a mobile wheel squad to tighten the nuts for you. You might as well get Ford to do it, because they will have to inspect your car to make sure it’s alright in any case.

Again, you can use the VIN checker to see if your car has loose nuts. In fact, we’re kind of asking you to do it before your wheel rolls off on its own adventure.