Ford F-150 owner outraged over lack of property compensation after engine block heater catches fire

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A B.C. couple whose Ford F-150 caught fire due to a faulty engine block heater has been waiting months for Ford Canada to offer compensation for their damaged property.

“We feel that we’ve been getting a sheet thrown over our head and just carry on,” Mike Dorvault said.

Back in February 2019, the Port Coquitlam resident and his wife Toni had a recall for door latch repairs on their 2016 F-150 truck.

When they took the vehicle in for servicing, Dorvault says he was told there was another recall for the block heater because of the potential risk to catch fire.

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The recall covers certain F-150s from 2015 to 2019 model years, as well as F-250, 350, 450 and 550 manufactured between 2017 and 2019.

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Dorvault says the dealership checked the vehicle over, but did not replace the block heater.

Instead, service notes indicate the engine block heater wire assembly was inspected, passed and greased.

“You’d think they’d do the recall of replacing the block heater, but what they did is they just ended up servicing it and passing it and saying it was good to go,” Dorvault said.

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However, ten days later when Dorvault plugged in the bock heater on a cold February night, the vehicle went up in flames.

“When I got home and just came in from work and sat down and relaxed, my daughter says, ‘daddy, daddy your truck is on fire,’” Dorvault said.

The truck was destroyed.

An origin and cause report done for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) concluded that heat and flame patterns, witness observations and the evidence found, were all indicative of the fire originating due to a failure within the block heater’s splice cable connection. This caused localized heating at the connection, which subsequently shorted.

The Dorvault’s truck was eventually replaced through their insurance.

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Still, they said the fire caused approximately $10,000 in property damage to their driveway and fence.

“When they came to remove the truck they had to scrape it off the asphalt. It was actually glued to the asphalt,” Toni Dorvault said.

Consumer Matters reached out to Ford Canada multiple times but received only a short statement.

“We have put the Dorvaults in contact with the person handling their case and have apologized for the delay in our response” said Ford Canada.

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For 10 months now, Ford Canada has not offered to pay for those repairs.

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The Dorvaults say they don’t want to make a claim under their home insurance for fear their premiums will climb.

“It’s horrible because you feel like you’ve done something, but you haven’t done anything. The only thing you’re trying to do is get stuff that’s been damaged fixed,” Toni Dorvault said.

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According to Transport Canada, a total of 446,041 vehicles in Canada were affected by Ford Recall No. 18S45, also known as Transport Canada Recall No. 2018-718.

Originally, 463,760 vehicles were identified as affected in Canada, but on Apr. 9, 2019, Ford revised the number to 446,041.

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In addition, 230,182 of these vehicles are subject to a second recall as the connectors on the engine block heater cable may have been inadvertently damaged during the first recall campaign’s service procedure.

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Transport Canada also says it’s aware of four F-series trucks that caught fire due to a faulty engine block heater. Three occurred prior to the first recall and one before the second recall.

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