Ford Explorer Recall Repair Problems Result in NHTSA Investigation

The NHTSA warns that vehicle owners who received the Ford recall repair before July 2022 did not receive a complete software update

Federal safety officials have opened an investigation into problems with recall repairs involving more than 700,000 Ford Explorer vehicles, which previously had defects that may cause the vehicles to rollaway while parked. However, some consumers indicate the SUVs are suddenly losing power after repairs were completed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Ford Explorer recall repair investigation on June 20, indicating that consumers have reported the repaired vehicles losing power or transmission torque to the rear wheels after receiving Ford’s recall remedy.

The vehicles were previously subject to a Ford Explorer recall in April 2022, after it was discovered that the rear axle mounting bolts may prematurely and unexpectedly fracture, disconnecting the driveshaft. This could allow the Ford Explorers to rollaway when parked, posing a severe injury risk for occupants attempting to enter or exit the vehicle, and those around the vehicle.

That recall impacted approximately 252,936 model year 2020 through 2021 Explorer Police Full FHEV, Explorer Police 3.3L Gas, and model year 2020 through 2022 Explorer 2.3L RWD, 3.0L PHEV, 3.3L FHEV Retail, and 3.0L ST Gas vehicles.

The rear axle horizontal mounting bolt defect was first discovered by Ford in August 2021, after the automaker received approximately 235 warranty claims of newer Ford Explorer vehicles losing their ability to park and moving after the vehicle was placed in the Park position and the engine was turned off.

To remedy the issue, Ford provided affected police vehicles with a new busing and axle cover, and provided retail vehicle owners with a powertrain control module (PCM) software update intended for the electronic parking brake to be applied in the event of a rear axle mounting bolt fracture.

Ford Recalls Explorers A Second Time Over Crash Risks

Following Ford’s recall fix, a new 2023 Explorer recall was issued in May, impacting approximately 674 model year 2020 through 2022 Ford Explorer vehicles that had already been serviced by a certified Ford dealer, following reports of vehicles behaving erratically after receiving a software update.

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According to the NHTSA, safety officials received at least two reports of consumers experiencing issues with their Explorer vehicles after having them repaired. One consumer reported that their vehicle unexpectedly came to a complete stop while driving between 30-35 mph, which caused the driver to strike a utility pole. Another consumer reported their vehicle jolted forward and started moving while they were attempting to disengage the electronic parking brake (EPB).

The inadequate recall repair was reportedly due to the fact that Ford’s recall remedy program was launched before certified dealers received the software calibrations necessary to implement an electronic parking brake update.

Officials determined that consumers did not receive a complete software update during their recall repair if the vehicle was fixed before July 2022.They only received a partial software update to their powertrain control module (PCM), but were not provided with an EPB update to prevent an unexpectedly vehicle rollaway, as originally intended.

While no injuries have been reported in relation to the defective rear axle mounting bolts, officials are investigating Ford’s remedy of the recall, as Ford has only offered consumers a software update, but have not announced or implemented a remedy to physically address the vehicle safety issues.


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