By on April 27, 2016

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Ford Motor Company issued three recall notices today, but top billing goes to a sensor problem linked to the sudden downshifting (to first gear!) of certain vehicles.

That safety recall involves 202,000 2011-2012 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator vehicles.

The problem stems from the output speed sensor on the vehicle’s transmission lead frame, which can go haywire and prompt a sudden downshift to first gear. Depending on the vehicle’s speed, this can lead to a lockup of the rear wheels, and a potentially dangerous skid.

Three accidents, but no injuries, are linked to the malfunction. Updates will be made to the software of the powertrain control module on recalled vehicles to prevent the downshift, and the lead frame replaced at no charge to keep customers happy and Ford-friendly.

Ford is also recalling 81,000 2014-2015 Explorer and Police Interceptor Utility models to inspect rear suspension toe links.

“In certain vehicles, it is possible that the left and right rear suspension toe links could fracture due to poor weld quality,” the automaker stated. “This condition could result in rear suspension noise, difficulty steering or loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.”

One suspension-linked crash has resulted in an injury to the occupant.

Sticking with the truck theme, Ford wants to track down 2,600 2016 Super Duty vehicles that rolled off the assembly line with possible damage to the tire sidewall. The damage could cause the tire to rupture, resulting in scenarios limited only by your imagination.

The company blames the factory’s conveyor for the damage.

All in all, a bad PR day for the “Built Ford Tough” slogan.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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28 Comments on “Ford Recalls 285,000 Vehicles; Sudden First-Gear Downshifts Reported...”

  • avatar

    Ford. Quality is Job 1.

  • avatar

    I believe this is what they refer to as Sudden Unintended Deceleration

  • avatar

    “Built Ford Tough”, Bob mused, casually sliding then rolling his Explorer into a ditch, “but certainly not built tough enough.”

  • avatar

    If only those Mustang drivers had bought a manual, you know, the way God intended Mustangs to be.

  • avatar

    I’ve only owned cars with manual transmissions and this furthers my distrust of the automatic transmission. This could have disastrous results for a Mustang (or any car) when entering a turn. Imagine the unexpected weight transfer to the front of the car. I don’t think any driver would realize what was happening until well after it was too late to do anything about it. I wonder if this is a software or mechanical issue. It sounds like a sensor issue that they are going to bypass through a software updated; somehow that doesn’t give me much confidence.

    • 0 avatar

      If the speed is enough, the powertrain should cease the powering-part if dropped into 1st.

      As he goes off the cliff, Toonces will think he’s driving a Tesla hearing nothing but whispering wind and anxious dummy-light chimes.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, chalk up another L for team “Modern auto trannies are so awesome only a loser luddite would want a manual!”

    • 0 avatar
      Shortest Circuit

      My problem here is that there should not be a TCM software in a production vehicle that allows a downshift when:
      a) vehicle is grossly overspeeding 1st gear
      b) it would put the engine into an unsafe RPM range

  • avatar


  • avatar

    “sudden downshifting (to first gear!)” :o

    12,000 RPM, here we come!

    On a different note, I can’t help but think that the Explorers wide adoption by police departments will serve to make the Explorer more reliable as police officers apathetically push their patrol cars to failure, helping Ford identify weak points in the design.

  • avatar

    Where is Bball? I want to lodge a complaint to the board.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Wonder what the damage was to the tire sidewall on the SD PU trucks? I’ll assume it wasn’t apparent by just visibly looking at the tire.

  • avatar

    Does anyone know if these are the same Chinese made transmissions that self destructed on earlier cars from Ford?

  • avatar

    “The problem stems from the output speed sensor on the vehicle’s transmission lead frame”

    I know these are heavy vehicles, but never suspected their frames to be made of lead.

  • avatar

    Ford also recalled 40 Fusions, but that is missing from the article.

  • avatar

    Shouldn’t the tranny’s Speed Sensor constantly compare itself to ABS Module readings? And then go into “limp mode” when they’re out of sync? Or just ask the Nav?

  • avatar

    Crazy! I just today heard from a guy who had his F150 fixed after this exact problem had caused a 6-2 downshift, locking up the rear.

    Between this kind of shenanigans, and them encouraging people to become fat and lazy enough to die of early heart attacks; slush boxes are definitely a public health hazard. Obama should institute tax credits for manuals. For the children.

  • avatar

    Just took a nice long 1,000 mile trip in middle U.S. People drive these monster pickup trucks like they’re sports cars, blowing by me when I was going 85 miles per hour like i was standing still.

    I don’t wish death or injury upon any of my fellow Americans but I would love to see a tire rupture in a big 7,000 pound F-450 at 110 MPH. Bet it would be loud, nasty and spectacular!

    • 0 avatar

      “Just took a nice long 1,000 mile trip in middle U.S. People drive these monster pickup trucks like they’re sports cars, blowing by me when I was going 85 miles per hour like i was standing still.”

      Precisely my experience when driving through Kentucky.

  • avatar

    The GMT900 trucks with good highway tires feel pretty stable going fast in a straight line. I imagine all the similar and newer generation trucks from other makers are the same.

    The problem is, most of the owners put lift kits, bottom-of-the-barrel suspension components and bottom-of-the-barrel off-road tires on.

    I’m sure those off-road tires are not rated for the kind of speeds the owners achieve, and all that wind going underneath the lifted truck can’t be good news.

    • 0 avatar

      “Most” of the owners? Better back that up with some numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        DrZ – I think he meant most of the buyers that lift their trucks use cheap components rather than saying most buyers lift their trucks.

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, OK. So to avoid ambiguity, it may have been better to say “most of the owners *who put lift kits on do so with* bottom-of-the-barrel…” Which I’m not so sure is true either, but it’s certainly closer to being true than the first meaning.

          • 0 avatar

            I have no idea where one would find such numbers, but a lot of the new trucks you see, at least around here (Oklahoma) appear to have lift kits installed.

  • avatar

    I would be concerned about physical damage to components from dropping to first gear at highway speed – most of these new autos have a really low 1st gear. I’m also surprised that there isn’t logic in place to prevent an immediate gear change based on the loss of a sensor input. My logic would be if nothing else has changed, but output shaft speed went from 3,000 rpm to zero, and all other turbine speed sensors, ABS wheel sensors, engine RPM, TC slip RPM sensors, etc. remained the same, do something sane – like a limp mode in 3rd – or do nothing aside from lighting the AT idiot light.

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