The latest Ford Explorer has been recalled again to fix an issue from an earlier recall of a fractured rear axle bolt that could lead to the SUV rolling away while parked, the NHTSA disclosed Monday.
If the rear axle bolt fractures, then the driveshaft or half-shafts can disconnect, resulting in no torque going to the rear wheels of the SUV. The Explorer was redesigned in 2020 on a rear-wheel-drive architecture. Transmission torque is needed to move the vehicle forward and backward but also to hold it in park. If the bolt is fractured, the SUV can roll away when it is in park without the electronic parking brake applied.
The issue arises most frequently after several “peak torque” events, according to Ford; that means slamming the gas pedal from a stop. Owners may notice “loud, grinding, binding, or clunking noises,” as well as extreme vibration or harshness preceding the condition. Then there can be a loss of drive power.
A recall in May 2022 for the same issue resulted in a software update for civilian cars and a hardware fix for Explorer Police Interceptors. This new recall includes most of the Explorers recalled in 2022, and will be remedied with a hardware fix. Dealers will replace the subframe bushing and rear axle bolt, and the rear axle cover will be inspected and replaced if need be.
The recall afflicts 238,364 Ford Explorers from the 2020-2022 model years, including gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and Police Interceptor models. Dealers were ordered to stop any demos or deliveries of the affected SUVs. The original recall encompassed more than 250,000 vehicles.
The number of reports and warranty claims acknowledged by Ford went from 235 claims from December 2019 to May 2022 to 396 reports now. Ford said it’s not aware of any rollaway issues for vehicles that had the software update fix.
The sixth-generation Explorer was beset by initial quality control problems ranging from faulty air conditioning units to transmission issues that delayed the rollout. Those problems have carried over into the real world, where the popular three-row crossover SUV has been recalled 19 times for a range of issues, from a rearview camera that didn’t meet safety standards to broken control arm bolts that could disable steering.
For the current rear axle bolt recall, owners can expect notification by mail as of Nov. 6. Ford will cover the repair costs and may provide reimbursement for owners who already paid for it. For more information, contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 or visit Ford’s recall site.
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