Some drivers of Ford F-150 pickup trucks and Expedition SUVs from the 2021-2023 model years have been complaining to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about a piercingly loud static noise coming from their vehicle’s speaker systems. Ford issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) related to the issue earlier this summer, as well as a software update aimed at resolving the issue.
The noise, which was captured in footage shared by The Wall Street Journal, is rather oppressive. It’s a garbled electronic static, coming through at an uncomfortable volume. The F-150’s stereo system wasn’t even turned on in the clip, which is something that many owners have mentioned in their NHTSA complaints. That means that the audio controls have no impact on the noise, which can be extremely distracting behind the wheel. One owner told officials that the noise was so loud that they initially believed an explosion had gone off. Another likened the noise to that of a sonic boom. While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, one driver noted that their Apple Watch recorded an audio spike of 109 decibels during an incident. That’s louder than a stock Hellcat at full tilt. A Ford spokesperson told R&T that there are around 100 complaints that have been filed with NHTSA in relation to this issue. A look through those complaints show that a number of owners don't believe they can safely drive with the static present.
Owners have also had different experiences as far as taming the noise is concerned. Some found that restarting the vehicle was enough to temper the audio issue, while others stated that the noise would persist even with the vehicle keyed off. According to the Technical Service Bulletin filed by Ford back on May 26, this is due to the vehicle’s audio digital signal processing module requiring an update. Service departments who encounter this issue have been tasked with simply reprogramming the unit with a diagnostic scan tool. According to a Ford spokesperson, this software update essentially turns the system’s amplifier into a filter, cutting back on unwanted or oppressive speaker noise. The F-150 Lightning got its own static-related TSB on June 14, in which an over-the-air update was pushed out for owners with the optional B&O sound system. The automaker further noted that the majority of complaints are tied to the 2022 F-150 in particular.
If you happen to experience this issue while driving a Ford truck, your local dealership should be able to remedy the situation without much trouble. Ford still has a ways to go to try and meet its promise to improve product quality, with the brand leading the charge as the most recalled automaker for a second consecutive year. While this issue hasn't resulted in a recall, it isn't exactly what customers are looking for from their truck or SUV.
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