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While Ford repeatedly bleats about better quality, its Explorer SUV keeps racking up recalls. Today, the National Highway Traffic Administration announced an investigation that signals another recall is on the way. The NHTSA is reviewing over 100 complaints filed over windshield trim panels detaching at higher speeds. It includes 2011 to 2019 Explorers. 

Why were there so many Ford Explorer problems from the start?

How safe is the Ford Explorer?
2022 Ford Explorer ST | Ford

No recall has been called, yet. And Ford is complying as it always does. But the Explorer, in particular, is leading the recall charge at the Blue Oval. And this doesn’t take into account the strange tale of early 2019 Explorers. 

The all-new 2019 Explorer began production on very shaky ground at its Chicago assembly plant. But assembly issues plagued the newly minted SUVs. It was so bad that every one produced was trucked to Ford’s Flint Rock assembly plant in Detroit, for “quality control.” This includes the sister Lincoln Aviator. 

Once every Explorer was fixed, they were shipped off to dealers. But the cost, and production compromise, cost the company a staggering amount. In late 2019, it claimed Explorer sales slumped 50% in Q3. The changeover at the Chicago plant was one of the most extensive the company ever attempted. It happened in only 31 days. 

How many recalls does the Ford Explorer have?

Ford Explorer exhaust
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

This all laid the groundwork for what has been a never-ending chorus of recalls. Starting with the first one in August 2019 recalls hit hyperspeed in 2020. Ford issued 14 that year, running the gamut from driveshafts detaching and rear lower control arms doing the same, to wiring, camera, and brake issues. 

There were another six Explorer recalls in 2021, which was an improvement from the previous year. And last year Ford improved slightly with only five Explorer recalls. So to the end of 2022, the Explorer gets a thumbs down with a total of 26 recalls. 

Is Ford losing money?

Front angle view of red 2023 Ford Explorer midsize SUV
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

But with this latest investigation, it looks like 2023 is starting off much like previous years. Ford had the most recalls overall of any automaker in 2021. It accomplished the same in 2022, affecting 8.6 cars and trucks. A recall last week involves almost 400,000 Explorers and Lincoln Aviator and Corsair SUVs. So 2023 has started off with a fresh Explorer recall, with this latest possibility looming.

Unfortunately, Ford is facing a myriad of problems. Besides the recall hit parade, its net income dropped 90% in Q4 2022. Its profits have been flat for two years straight at around $10+ billion. It lost $2.2 billion in 2022. A combination of write-downs and continuing supply chain problems are to blame. 

However, its long-term debt dropped from over $100 billion to $88.4 in 2021. Still, recalls cost the company billions. And they also chip away at its reputation among consumers. Consumer Reports ranks 18 out of 24 brands for reliability in 2022. Both the Explorer and F-150 PowerBoost hybrid ranked low in reliability ratings.  


Ford Quality Problems: Five Separate Recalls For Explorer, F-150, Bronco, and Ranger