Ford recalls over 238,000 Explorers to replace axle bolts that can fail after US opens investigation


DETROIT (AP) — 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 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 Nov. 6.

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.