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Ford recalls more than 238,000 Explorers over potential rear axle bolt failure

Ford recalls over 230,000 Explorers for potential rollaway risk
Ford recalls over 230,000 Explorers for potential rollaway risk 00:23

Ford is recalling more than 238,000 Explorers in the U.S. because a rear axle bolt can fail, potentially causing a loss of drive power or allowing the SUVs to roll away while in park.

The recall comes after U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation into the problem after getting two complaints that repairs didn't work in two previous recalls this year and in 2022.

Affected are certain Explorers from the 2020 through 2022 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Friday on its website that the rear axle horizontal mounting bolt can fracture and cause the driveshaft to disconnect, increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will replace a bushing (which is a cushion made of rubber or other rubber-like material) and the rear axle bolt. They also will inspect the rear axle cover for damage near the bolt hole and replace the cover if damage is found. Owners will be notified by letter starting November 6.

2020 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview - Day 2
Ford is recalling more than 238,000 Explorers from 2020 (seen above) through 2022 model years in the U.S. because a rear axle bolt can fail.  Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Ford said in documents that it knows of 396 reports of rear axle bolt failures, and fewer than 5% caused loss of power or let vehicles roll while they were in park. The company says it's not aware of any crashes or injuries.

NHTSA opened its investigation in June after getting complaints alleging loss of power due to failure of rear axle bolts even though the Explorers had received repairs under the previous recalls.

Ford's remedy was to update software that automatically applied the parking brake to keep the vehicles from rolling away. But the agency said in documents that there was no remedy addressing the failed axle bolt.

Ford said Friday that it was replacing axle bolts under service campaigns before the latest recall.

Previous Ford recall over parking brake issues

Ford Motor recalled about 870,000 F-150 pickup trucks in July because of a faulty parking brake that could turn on by itself, causing the driver to lose control. The Michigan automaker fixed the issue on affected trucks brought in to Ford and Lincoln dealerships by consumers, by installing a protective tie strap and tape wrap on the brake wiring as well as replacing the rear axle wiring harness which could be susceptible to chafing resulting in the grounding of circuits. 

Company documents at the time stated that Ford had 918 warranty claims and three field reports of wire chafing in North America. Of those, 299 indicated unexpected parking brake activation, 19 of which occured while the trucks were being driven. 

There were no reports of crashes or injuries caused by the problem, Ford stated at the time of the recall.

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