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Oh no, the Ford Explorer might be in serious trouble again. Ford doesn’t have the best track record for quality at the moment, and the 2020 – 2022 Ford Explorer models aren’t helping its reputation. Allegedly, a simple issue wasn’t corrected. 

Ford Explorer lawsuit: Rear axle bolts may fracture 

The 2023 Ford Explorer parked on a dock
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Back in April 2022, Ford released a recall for 2020 – 2022 Ford Explorer models after finding that the rear axle mounting bolt may fracture while accelerating. This could cause severe vibrations, loud grinding noises, and the driveshaft could be disconnected. 

As a result, the Explorer could roll away while in park. Ford instructed dealers to replace the defective bolt, but folks at Car Complaints claim this fix wasn’t enough. Also, the issue could be much larger than expected, with fault bolts impacting models from 2019 and earlier.

The lawsuit filed by Capstone Law APC claims the Ford Explorer models affected by this recall have defective rear subframes that are only connected by the rear axle mounting bolt. It could be incapable of handling extra power for the Explorer ST. 

So, when the bolt fractures, the rear differential drops. It also causes damage to the suspension, driveshaft, exhaust, and other components. 

Dealers recommended having these parts repaired as part of the recall process, but only the bolt was covered. 

Did Ford know about this Explorer problem? 

Allegedly, Ford knew about this Ford Explorer issue and didn’t implement safety corrections for the rear mounting bolt. In 2020, Ford implemented a four-bolt subframe mount to a small number of 2022 Explorer ST models. 

The case reports that Ford willingly substituted the single rear subframe rear mounting bolt with the four-bolt setup to save supplies due to supply chain shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Also, prior to the recall in April 2022, Ford released a special service message in February for 2020 – 2022 Explorer models. The message shared that some Explorer models may exhibit a rear axle mounting bolt that’s broken. 

To correct the problem, the rear subframe, differential cover, mounting bolts, and other damaged components will need to be replaced. 

So, did Ford knowingly conceal the rear subframe bolt fractures to prevent drivers from knowing about the alleged failures? 

How reliable is the Explorer? 

The 2023 Ford Explorer parked in the desert
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

The 2022 Ford Explorer has 10 recalls so far but manages to squeeze by with a pretty good reliability rating. It earned a score of 81 out of 100, which places it in the above-average range by a hair. Scores between 70 and 80 are average. 

You can expect the average Explorer model to reach 200,000 miles with proper care and regular maintenance. That’s behind rivals like the Toyota Highlander, which can easily reach 300,000 miles when maintained correctly. 

If you drive your Explorer for an average of 12,000 miles annually, then it could provide about 17 years of service on the road. Rivals might last longer, though. 

On a more positive note, Ford is working on improving its quality to find issues before vehicles leave the factory. The Explorer could be in the process of turning things around with a significant refresh coming down the pipeline. 

Stay tuned as we follow this lawsuit for updates! Plus, the refreshed 2024 Explorer could debut soon with an updated look and modern tech.