Pleasanton, CA – November 24, 2020 – Ford (NYSE:F) has recalled 318,381 SUVs because a part of the suspension – which connects the vehicle to the wheels – may fracture, seriously impairing a driver’s ability to steer. The recall includes 2013-2017 Ford Explorer SUVs and concerns the rear suspension toe links (#DB5Z-5B758-B and #DB5Z-5B759-B).
The rear toe links hold the car’s back wheels at the correct angle so that the vehicle actually goes in the direction that the driver is steering.
For a reason that is not entirely clear, the toe links have been snapping, causing the driver to lose control of the cars’ back wheels and get injured. Ford’s investigation up to date has pointed to salt – that is predominantly used in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest – as the culprit of the problem. Salt can corrode vehicles’ underbellies, where the toe links are located.
As such, the recall encompasses 22 states and six Canadian provinces where salt is used to de-ice roads in the winter.
This is the third time the manufacturer recalls Explorers for the same issue that was previously addressed in two separate recalls in 2016 and 2019. The smaller 2016 recall was deemed necessary because of the toe links “improper weld,” while the 2019 one – that involved 1.2 million vehicles – was allegedly caused by rough roads.
Toe link problems have also forced Ford to recall nearly 230,000 Flex, Taurus, and Lincoln MKT vehicles this past February. Ford Focus cars have been subject to several complaints – one as recently as February – for its tires wearing out early.
A broken rear toe link will sever a driver’s control over one of their back wheels, allowing it to point in any direction. Under these conditions, the vehicle may start fishtailing (weaving left and right like a fish), which can send the car careening into a ditch or oncoming traffic. This is extremely dangerous. In fact, problems relating to this recall have caused at least 13 accidents and six injuries.
‘Sliding on ice sideways’
After one Explorer owner’s toe links snapped last February, they described the experience in a complaint to the NHTSA. “It’s like sliding on ice sideways. Very scary. Never want to go through this ever again.” The driver nearly avoided a head-on collision.
Other drivers were similarly shaken by the sudden loss of control. “My daughter and I should have both been killed” said one NHTSA complaint this past August. “…several weeks since the (near) accident and we are still shaken up by it.” Another driver described how their seven-year-old grandson was now afraid to get in the car alone with them after their Explorer’s toe link broke and the car fishtailed across the median, slamming into a reflector post, just barely missing oncoming traffic.
Ford will inspect where the toe link attaches to the wheel, and replace it if necessary, for free. The recall is expected to begin November 30, 2020.
Is your vehicle part of this recall?
Over 300,000 vehicles are part of this Ford recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.