Another day, another Ford Explorer recall. This time it is for rear axle mounting bolts failing under acceleration. But the weird part isn’t that these bolts are fracturing, but that Ford intends to fix the issue with a software update. If you’re wondering if the two correlate, we are as well. Here’s why at first glance Ford’s fix sounds fishy.
What is the fix for this latest Explorer recall?
Dealers’ notices have gone out informing technicians the fix is updating the powertrain control module software. This will be available before summer unless the issue happens to a Police Interceptor Explorer. In that case, Ford will replace the mounting bolts according to Autoevolution.
Rather than Ford replacing the mounting bolts on all affected civilian Explorers, it will throttle back acceleration bursts through a software reprogram. Besides being a bit sketchy, it also results in your Explorer not fulfilling its original advertised specifications. Put another way, the SUV you paid for isn’t the one you have now.
For those Police Interceptor Explorers, new, stronger bolts will be available next quarter. Until then, we guess you shouldn’t drive your fleet of 2020 to 2022 Explorers.
Ford has already issued a stop-sale order for 2022 Explorers
Within that group of Explorers, those 2020 models having the 3.3-liter V6 or 3.3-liter hybrid are part of the recall. For the 2021 model year, Ford is recalling Explorer Police Utility Vehicles with the 3.3-liter V6. In case dealers intend for customers to test drive 2022 Explorers, Ford has issued a stop-sale order.
If the rear axle mounting bolts snap or fracture, the housing becomes partly dislodged from the chassis. This can cause it to make noise and create vibrations. It can also lead to the half-shafts pulling away from the third member.
Also, the rear axle can become disconnected from the rest of the driveline. Unless the emergency brake is activated, it can result in the Explorer rolling away. Loss of control is also a possibility.
How many recalls have this generation of Explorer had?
Ford has had a lot of issues with the current generation of Explorers going back to its inception in 2019. All early Explorers built at its Chicago Assembly Plant required remedial work. The SUVs were loaded onto car haulers and transported to Ford’s Flat Rock plant in Michigan. Before releasing to dealers, they were massaged to correct certain issues.
In fact, there have been so many recalls that it is hard to keep track. The last we checked we count 19 recalls involving 2020 to 2022 Explorers and Lincoln Aviator SUVs. That’s a tremendous amount of recalls for under three-years worth of production.
One recall begat another recall
In one case, rear suspension replacement parts were labeled incorrectly, prompting a second recall (#21V870000). Lower rear suspension control arm bolts not being heat-treated were part of another recall. Driveshafts fracturing has also been the source of another recall.
You can go to Ford’s recall center for more information, though we understand some of this recall information precedes the actual recall. Notices should go out by May. If possible, we’d recommend paying a little extra and having the dealer replace those suspect bolts.