As with a few other vehicles on the market, the Ford Bronco is having a hard time staying out of the principal’s office. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed an audit on Ford’s point vehicle for the off-road sector, and didn’t like the math on the seatbelt latches for the driver and front passenger. A section on “Occupant Crash Protection” in the book of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS No. 208 S7.4.4), contains a subsection covering “Latch Plate Access.” The subsection basically lays out how easy it should be for driver and passenger to reach over their shoulders for the seatbelt latch plate (the part that goes into the buckle), and mandates that the latch plate shouldn’t be crammed between vehicle trim or furniture.
Turns out that in the five-door Bronco, but not the two-door Bronco, the latch plate isn’t given enough room between the seat back and interior trim for easy access. The worry is that driver and passenger will simply not wear the belts instead of possibly needing to fish for them, hence the recall.
Ford said the 175,550 five-door Broncos involved in the recall were built between September 23, 2020, and May 9, 2023. Every one of them is expected to suffer from the issue. The breakdown by model year is:
- 39,302 2021 Model Year 5-Door Broncos
- 88,704 2022 Model Year 5-Door Broncos
- 47,544 2023 Model Year 5-Door Broncos
The company is investigating how the issue got past engineering checks. The fix is a trip to the dealer to have a sliding clip attached to the belt that keeps the latch in a legal position. Tech writers will also add a section to the owner’s manual on “the appropriate use” of what is effectively a fancy barrette.
Ford says it expects to begin mailing letters to owners on June 30. Until then, five-door Bronco owners can contact their Ford dealer and ask the dealer to look up information for their vehicle in the Ford On-line Automotive Service Information System (OASIS) database. They can also contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332 and refer to internal recall number 23C16. A third option is to get in touch with the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 (TTY 800-424-9153), or go to www.nhtsa.gov, and look up campaign number 23V358.