2021 Ford Bronco: An Independent Mechanic’s Take

The Ford Bronco is an off-road king, but there are some key issues to keep an eye on, according to an automotive technician.

byRob Stumpf| PUBLISHED Nov 1, 2021 3:00 PM
2021 Ford Bronco: An Independent Mechanic’s Take

The new Ford Bronco has been received with open arms by off-road enthusiasts, truck lovers, and just about anyone who wants an SUV that doesn't look like everything else already on the road. And while it has been highly regarded by the media and current owners, it's also had its fair share of criticism for problems that have arisen during production and even shortly after delivery.

Hoping to bridge the gap between media drives and home garages, Rich Bosch of the Canadian YouTube Channel Deboss Garage stepped in to provide an independent mechanic's point of view on the new Bronco. His review gives potential buyers a critique-focused yet realistic look at the true usability and problems that might arise in the future, whether the truck is off-roaded to its limit, or just used as a daily driver.

via YouTube | @DebossGarage

To kick things off, Bosch borrowed a 2021 Bronco Wildtrak, the top-tier trim that comes standard with Ford's otherwise optional Sasquatch package.

His first impressions of the Bronco's build quality were fairly critical. For example, the Bronco that Bosch drove appeared to have issues with panel misalignment, resulting in an uneven gap along the doors and rear tailgate. Paint quality was also a concern for him, particularly around the rear tailgate hinges. Bosch calls out the lack of paint behind the hinges and notes that the tailgate may have been assembled prior to the truck being painted in the name of cost savings, meaning rust may eventually form down the road.

Underneath the hood, he also calls out the placement of the washer fluid reservoir, which runs along the inside of the front fenders. He cautions that this could trap moisture and eventually lead to rotting. Speaking of rust, the YouTuber also notes two other areas of concern. First up is the modular front bumper, which is held together by Torx bolts. Bosch notes that the use of Torx (or any internally driven bolt) may be bad for longevity if they begin to corrode—rounded-off edges are a disaster once they become rusty, which could happen given enough time and elements. He also notes that the front subframe held a significant amount of water following his test, which means it may also be prone to rust over time.

via YouTube | @DebossGarage

Bosch's test Bronco was equipped with modular bumpers, which means that it also was optioned with the front skid plate. However, that skid plate doesn't span the full length (or width) of the Bronco and apparently leaves several crucial areas unprotected. The most vulnerable part at the front of the vehicle is the composite transmission pan, which sits just behind the front wheels. The pan also doesn't have a drain plug, according to Bosch, so owners who off-road their rigs and do their own maintenance may not be too happy about this according to Bosch.

Other potentially troublesome parts include what he describes as "skinny tie rods," which may bend if smacked hard enough by a large rock, and lower-hanging side steps, which could do the same. The downside to the sidesteps is that they could lead to bigger problems if caught on a large rock since they are bolted to the Bronco's rocker panel and not the frame. Should they bend the rocker, there may be functionality problems with the doors.

via YouTube | @DebossGarage

As for the driving experience, the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 is ample for the Bronco's tasks (though Bosch is counting the days until someone V8 swaps one). He gives the 10-speed auto a good bit of credit too.

The 2.7-liter has a reputation for looking a bit...well, busy. Its looms of wires and tubing can be daunting to look at and could scare away some rookie DIY-ers. Bosch says that it's a lot less complicated than it looks, so this may be a judgment call depending on how comfortable buyers are with repairs after the warranty has expired.

Bosch's criticisms aside, he seemed to be fairly happy with the Bronco. In fact, he commends the off-road SUV for its ability to be a daily commuter that he would actually consider buying for his stable. It's stylish, fun to drive, and quite utilitarian to boot.

Seeing as we haven't had much one-on-one time with the Bronco, it's impossible for us to corroborate all the claims made on this video. From a reliability standpoint, it's way too early in the game to say what works well and what doesn't. Time will tell the Bronco's strengths and weaknesses—these are just initial observations by a mechanic that could prove true or false over the years.

While there are some quirks to work out, according to Bosch, the Bronco does seem to be a well-rounded vehicle. Should its tiny nuances be enough to keep an off-road enthusiast from buying it? No, but it does give a good indication of what kind of aftermarket solutions to seek out after it lands in their driveway.

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