Ford withdraws more than 250,000 trucks and SUVs for roll-away risk

Ford will recall 252,936 Explorers produced for the 2020-2022 model year to replace a bolt used to mount the rear axle in its subframe. This bolt can factor, allowing the driveshaft to disconnect from the axle assembly, which makes it possible for the car to roll over while parked if the brakes are not applied.

Withdrawal applies to 2020-2021 Explorer Police FHEV, Explorer Police 3.3L, and 2020-2022 Explorer 2.3L RWD, 3.0L PHEV, 3.3 L HEV and 3.0L ST. Explorer ST owners in particular should take note. Models that are strictly driven (especially offensive launches are problematic) are more likely to show the problem, Ford said in a supporting document submitted to the NHTSA.

“The wrecked vehicle was built with a 3-point mounted Excel design,” the Ford report said. “In some units the rear axle horizontal mounting bolt may fracture. The powertrain torque through the driveline causes the axle rotation of the pinion towards the subframe, which applies a bending force to the rear axle bolt. The peak torque is usually felt during the launch event.”

“Combined design is not strong for peak axle input torque and output variability. The primary contributor is insufficient bearing field for maximum joint load. This causes the bearing area to deform, increasing the bending pressure on the bolt, which can lead to fatigue failure,” Ford said.

Symptoms of fatigue failure include loud grinding, binding, or clinking noises from the rear end of the vehicle. The remedy for the problem is twofold. Customers will receive a software update that will enable a feature where the parking brake will be applied automatically when the car is parked. Owners of some previous examples (or showing signs of fatigue) will also find new mounting components for the rear axle.

Sellers will be notified in early April; Owners will receive notice by June 10.

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