Laguna Hills, CA – June 20, 2019 – Over 1.1 million 2011-2017 Ford Explorers are under recall notice by the model’s eponymous automaker due to a rear suspension system issue that poses a potential threat to riders’ safety by increasing their crash risk. Ford Motor Company says it will inform registered owners of this hazard by first-class mail no later than June 24 and advise them to take their vehicles back to the dealer so that the problem, if diagnosed, can be fixed at no cost.
According to filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford is recalling approximately 1.19 million Explorers – with model years ranging from 2011 to 2019 – whose rear suspension systems may be compromised. More specifically, the problem affects the sport utility vehicle’s toe links, which are located in the rear of the vehicle and provide added ballast so the wheels remain in constant contact with the road. However, it’s possible that these toe links could fracture while the vehicle is in operation, depending on the topography and curvature of a given road surface. In such an event, it could lead to an accident by reducing motorists’ steering control.
Timeline of Events
This issue first came to Ford’s attention back in April 2017 when the automaker received feedback from an Explorer user who noted that the toe link on the SUV shattered after mistakenly hitting a curb. The automaker was made aware of other incidents involving the rear suspension issue through December 2018, although none of the incidents led to injury.
But the number of events was enough to prompt an internal investigation, which featured engineers recreating situations that were similar to the ones referenced by motorists whose toe links broke or suspension systems failed. These tests determined that when Explorers were under stress – experiencing “suspension articulation,” in automotive jargon – the toe links could fracture, especially if exposed to the same types of jostling regularly and over time. A break could then lead to a steering failure and potential risk of an injury in the event of a crash.
Ford’s Field Review Committee ultimately determined that a safety recall was warranted and informed NHTSA of this in early June.
The recall is rather wide in scope, involving Explorers built between May 2010 and January 2017. Most of the potentially problematic SUVs are 2015 and 2016 models, as Ford says it’s recalling a combined 466,000 vehicles manufactured during this period. Of the 1.19 million warranting a recall, around 12,000 SUVs have the defect and will need to be serviced, according to NHTSA documents.
Nevertheless, Ford says it will send out fliers to owners starting on June 24 to inform them of the safety issue and instruct drivers to take their SUVs to their nearest authorized dealer so the rear suspension toe links can be repaired or replaced. The recall is expected to cost the automaker approximately $180 million, according to BBC News, but for motorists themselves, the repair is free.
For more information on this, contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332. You can also enter your VIN at MotorSafety.org to see if your vehicle is affected by this or a separate recall. An estimated 25% of vehicles currently on the road have a recall that has yet to be repaired.