By Jane Nguyen
Ford is recalling over 238,000 Explorers due to a safety issue that could cause the vehicle to roll away if the parking brake isn’t applied.
The impacted vehicles in the recall are certain Explorers from the 2020 through 2022 model years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said a rear axle bolt may fracture and cause the driveshaft to disconnect. This can result in a loss of drive power or allow the SUVs to roll away and risk a crash.
The agency said dealers will replace the rear axle bolt and subframe bushing at no cost. They will also inspect the rear axle cover for damage near the bolt hole and replace the cover if damage is found.
Owners of the vehicles will be notified by letter starting November 6. Owners can also call Ford customer service at 1-8669-436-7332 (Ford’s number for this recall is 23S55).
Ford said in documents that it is aware of 396 reports of rear axle bolt failures, and fewer than 5 percent caused loss of power or let vehicles roll while they were parked. The company said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries.
NHTSA opened its investigation in June after getting complaints alleging loss of power due to failure of rear axle bolts even though the Explorers had received repairs under the previous recalls.
Ford’s solution was to update software that automatically applied the parking brake to keep the vehicles from rolling away. However, the agency said there was no remedy addressing the failed axle bolt.
Ford said Friday that it was replacing axle bolts under service campaigns before the latest recall.
The Explorer recall comes as the automaker is trying to remake itself by cutting costs and raising quality, CEO Jim Farley said in May. Ford will emphasize software and services as well as iconic vehicles such as pickup trucks, large SUVs, commercial vehicles, and advanced second-generation electric vehicles, Farley said. The company will also cut costs by reducing the number of parts in its vehicles as well as cutting warranty and recall expenses by boosting quality.
Ford has split itself into three business units, “Ford Blue,” “Ford Model e” for electric vehicles and digital products, and “Ford Pro,” the company’s commercial vehicle business.
In July, Ford recalled more than 870,000 of its full-sized F-150 trucks because the electronic parking brake could turn on unexpectedly at any time, including while the vehicle is being driven. That could cause a loss of control and possibly a crash.
The recall covers certain pickups from the 2021 through 2023 model years with single exhaust systems. Ford’s F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the United States
Ford said it had received 918 warranty claims and three field reports for the wire chafing condition in North America. Of those, 299 indicated the electric parking brake had been activated unintentionally, including 19 while driving. The company said it is not aware of crashes or injuries related to the recall.
Ford leads the auto industry in recalls overall. As of October 14, the company issued 45 recalls, affecting nearly 4.9 million vehicles, according to data from NHTSA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.