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Some 2021 Ford F-150 Owners Are Experiencing Phantom Battery Drain

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The 2021 Ford F-150 has proven to be a hot commodity in recent months, with orders piling up and dealer inventory flying off of lots at a swift pace. However, it seems like at least a few owners of a brand new 14th gen Ford F-150 are experiencing a bit of a puzzling problem – phantom battery drain from the truck’s 12-volt battery.

“A population of vehicles built before we began shipping to dealers require a software update to prevent batteries from losing their charge,” Ford spokesman Said Deep told the Detroit Free Press. “Our dealers were notified last week and customer letters will go out next week as part of a customer satisfaction program for this matter.” Deep also said that owners experiencing a battery charge problem should take their trucks to a dealership for a software update.

Ford did not share any details regarding what might be causing this phantom battery drain, nor how many vehicles might be affected by it. As we reported recently, a number of 2021 Ford F-150 models produced at the same time as prototypes were held in both Detroit and Kansas City awaiting final quality checks and software updates.

The Free Press dug up accounts from a number of dealers and owners who have claimed to suffer from this phantom drain. One, a technician at a Texas dealership, checked the battery and found it to be fine after it was charged. Others have speculated that the problem stems from battery durability.

So far, there doesn’t appear to be any correlation to these accounts in terms of how long the truck has been sitting idle before the battery died. In some instances, the drain occurred directly after the pickups were driven, in some cases even long distances.

We’ll have more on this as soon as it’s available, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford F-Series news, Ford F-150 news, and 24/7 Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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26 Comments

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  1. Wait until that electric F150 hits the streets. You’ll see some serious battery drain when that glorified golf cart starts whirring around town.

      • Trump isn’t the liar. Biden and Congress have proved that twice (at least). The ‘condition’ is obviously with electric vehicles and the ‘writings been on the wall’ since their advent.

      • Ford Owner: You are a brainwashed moron. The internet is clogged with battery issues in EVs. You should check out some facts some time.

    • Look, I know you’re mad because you can’t afford a new vehicle, but if you’re upset with your daily, don’t equate it with a product you haven’t even seen yet.

  2. you can at least identify the malfunctioning system with a multitester. with a fully charged battery, disconnect the negative terminal, set the tester to your highest available dc amperage setting, and put one probe on the battery post and the other on a good ground (such as the chassis of the vehicle.) pull fuses one at a time until you see the drain drop to or near zero.

      • Actually there’s a bit more to diagnosing ‘parasitic battery drain’ and would be well advised to look up the correct procedure for the vehicle being tested. On my 2005 Mustang, 50mA was the absolute max, with my car testing at 30mA after the ‘smart module’ was reset per factory instructions.

        Following the correct procedure (much left out here), my multimeter displayed 1.6A draw after the car was turned off. After about a minute or so, the meter displayed 30mA. If the drop isn’t reached, then the above procedure stated by Adam will be helpful. Fortunately, I didn’t have to check the alternator for a short as the device sits under the intake manifold and the terminals are unreachable without removing the alternator.

  3. So Ford know what the problem is but won’t inform owners till it happens? That real customer careing? Yea right that’s a better idea!

  4. I had a 2013 Fusion plug-in Hybrid that was a battery discharging nightmare. There are two batteries, one to start and supply the dashboard, and the rechargeable hybrid battery that only supplied drivetrain power. The starting battery went dead multiple times, including leaving me in an empty parking lot at 10 below zero. I could not even enter the car. Completely dead. After the third tow to a Ford dealer, they decided it was the wrong 12 volt battery but could not explain the difference in the structure. They charged me $275.00 for a new battery and a computer update, stating it was the dealers fault and I should take up payment with the dealer. Instead, I traded the car for a ’15 Taurus SHO at a considerable depreciation loss. The Taurus is still perfect with no warranty issues. I now need a truck to tow a boat I’m buying, but this is a wake up call to keep the truck simple.

  5. It most likely the software that determines the charging rate was not correct. GM trucks use a variable charge voltage to the battery depending on the battery voltage and electrical load. You’ll see the needle at around 14 volts or 12 volts. It prevents an over charge extending the life of the battery and less load on the engine to drive the alternator. I’m sure Ford has this feature.

  6. There is nothing wrong with identifying issues and the getting on top of it by notifying dealers but yet again this vehicle was touted with Over The Air (OTA) software updates for multimedia and ECM. Why are trucks failing batteries?……once you identify the issue you push out the fix and when the vehicle has a good connection it completes the update. The 4G internal modem is constantly talking to Ford servers about your location and vehicle information anyways. Come on Ford this is getting bad with rollouts. We suffered enough with My Ford Touch, stop being the worst at technology deployments.

  7. Early S197 Mustangs had a similar issue (I owned an early production 2005 GT). Dealers were replacing batteries, alternators, etc. without correcting the issue. Ford issued a service bulletin few apparently read: Disconnect the battery cables, negative first. Fully charge battery. Reconnect battery cables, negative last.

    This resets the so called ‘Smart Module’ that provides power to the accessories for a short period after Mustang is turned off. Also advised to turn off the Shaker Sound System manually before turning the car off. For those who didn’t get frustrated and sell their cars, or sued under lemon laws, the above procedures solved the vast majority of these issues.

  8. You have to realize the liberals or progressives as they like to be called do not think clearly, rationally or logically. They live in their own humorless, judgmental “I am better and smarter than you world”. Look at what happened in Texas, wind turbines froze up denying electric heat and hot water to millions. Coal fired plants don’t seize up during a cold snap.

    • What does that have to do with anything? There are a ton of Teslas here in Iowa and I hate to say it, but they do really well in the snow.

  9. I also own a 2019 Ranger Lariat Super Crewcab. Arrived with SYNC v.3.3, had limited ‘over the air’ updating ability I was told. 2020s came with v.3.4 installed – has more enhanced ‘over the air’ upgrading ability but I can’t tell you what. My Lariat recently went in for its ‘annual service’ and the V.3.4 update was performed for $129. Fortunately I paid nothing toward the full bill as Ford Rewards covered it. Hoping this forum breaks away from the political angles.

  10. I own a 21 F150 Lariat and I have to charge the battery every two days because it falls below 60% and the system shut things down to save the battery there is a major issue and I’m sure it’s not as simple as an update unless they are just shutting off everything in the truck it’s all fun and games until someone dies when their electric power steering quits or their electronic braking system fails

  11. Deep Sleep Mode truck has been in warm garage so it’s not the weather started it 5 days ago. But battery is complete dead. Had to ise the manual key to open. Drove my Tundra 7 years no problems. Buy a new top of the lime Ford F150 King Ranch with Hybrid! Bam 356 miles and now I am walking!

  12. Deep Sleep Mode truck has been in warm garage so it’s not the weather started it 5 days ago. But battery is complete dead. Had to use the manual key to open. Drove my Tundra 7 years no problems. Buy a new top of the lime Ford F150 King Ranch with Hybrid! Bam 356 miles and now I am walking!

  13. Deep Sleep Mode truck has been in warm garage so it’s not the weather started it 5 days ago. But battery is complete dead. Had to use the manual key to open. Drove my Tundra 7 years no problems. Buy a new top of the line Ford F150 King Ranch with Hybrid! Bam 356 miles and now I am walking!

  14. Am having a similar issue. I picked the truck up a week ago and now have a charger on the battery when it sits in the driveway; trying to keep it from going below threshold. Will be taking it to the local dealership for the update and any other testing needed. It is a bit aggravating to have spent so much money on this otherwise beautiful truck to have to tolerate the dead battery. This is certainly not what I expected! Dang the luck…

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