Recall Alert: Ford Recall Affects 661,000 Explorer SUVs

The Ford Explorer is one of the most popular crossover SUVs on the road. But over the years it has dealt with its share of recalls––there are already Ford Explorer recalls in 2021 for issues with loosening motor mount bolts. Now Ford Explorers from the model year 2016-2019 are now recalled for problems the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated for about one year.

Ford Explorer crossover SUVs at a dealership| Mario Tama/Getty Images

Roof racks might come loose

The latest Ford recall affects over 650,000 Ford Explorer SUV units––according to Reuters. In fact, Reuters reports that “Ford Motor Company is recalling 661,000 Explorer sport utility vehicles in North America.” The reason for this Ford Explorer recall involves Ford Explorer roof rail covers.

According to documents on the NHTSA website that state the retention pins on the roof racks on Explorer crossover SUV models may come loose. If the pins come loose, then the roof rail covers can potentially “detach from the vehicle.”

This Ford Explorer recall is made official in 2021, but the first inquiry was in 2020

A photo of a 2017 Ford Explorer Outdoors.
2017 Ford Explorer | Ford Motor Company

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While reviewing the public document, it’s easy to see that the first inquiry into this Ford Explorer recall was in April of 2020. That’s over a year ago that this was first officially recognized as a possible issue. How does Ford Motor Company plan to repair the affected models? And which Ford Explorer models fall under the latest 2021 recall?

This roof rack recall affects Ford Explorer crossover SUVs from the model year 2016 to 2019. A range of versions including the Sport, XLT, and entry-level or base model Explorer are all on the list. However, Police Interceptor Explorers with silver, black, or Absolute Black roof rails are also part of the recall.

Ford dealers will repair the recalled Ford Explorer roof racks. Push-pins to secure the roof racks are the official repair active Ford decided on for the recall. In addition, the company will “replace any damaged rail clips and roof rail covers,” Car and Driver reports.

From warranty extension to official Ford Explorer recall

a blue 2018 Ford Explorer crossover SUV in a press photo driving on a scenic road near a lake.
2018 Ford Explorer | Ford Media

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” Ford is not aware of any reports of accident or injury related to this condition.”

NHTSA document, Ford Explorer recall 2021

Initially, Ford didn’t make plans to recall this roof rack problem. In the document, the automaker stated a recall was unnecessary because a roof rail actually detaching is unlikely. It also claimed that the lightweight nature of the roof rails combined with a high likelihood that Ford Explorer drivers would quickly become aware of a loose roof rail cover suggest the issue may not need a recall. In November 2020, a Ford issued a warranty extension but made no moves toward a recall at that time.

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However, the NHTSA submitted a request that Ford issue a recall for the Ford Explorer loose roof rail cover issue. Owners of the affected popular crossover SUV models will receive notification in June 2021. In fact, CarComplaints.com reports that Ford will send the recall notification letters on “June 28, 2021.”

What do you do if the roof rack recall affects your crossover SUV?

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In November 2020, Ford extended the Ford Explorer’s warranty. This extension covered the roof rack and roof rail cover issue for 10 years or 150,000 miles. Ultimately, the U.S. automaker agreed and will issue an official Ford Explorer recall on April 30, 2021.

Owners who think their vehicles are affected can either await notification or look up their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the NHTSA website. However, note that updates can take time. The system may not have new information may available until Ford sends the letters.

Upon receiving notification, owners will follow the instructions Ford issues to owners with recalled Ford Explorer SUV models. In this case, action will likely involve having you roof rail covers and roof rack checked at the dealer. If they discover concerning issues, repairs (push-pins) and replacements should take place.

The Ford Explorer is a popular SUV for families across America. But regardless of expected quality, problems can present for nearly any product. Recalls like this do affect a high number of vehicles and undoubtedly bring down reliability ratings. However, the Ford Explorer does have its high points––including the new Timberline model.