By on May 5, 2017

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Normally, a safety recall concerns an intrinsic defect found in a vehicle and, barring some regional temperature-related issues, usually covers units sold throughout the country. While Ford Motor Company is no stranger to recalls, its most recent callback concerns late-model Explorers with a very specific problem in a very specific region.

Blame the mud.

Ford of Canada has announced the recall of nearly 21,000 2013-2017 Explorer and Police Interceptor Utility models, but only in three western provinces.

Why just Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba? It has something to do with the word “chernozemic.” That’s the soil type found only in those three Prairie provinces, which are well known for endless fields of wheat and canola and the ability to watch your dog run away for three days. The soil type is high in organic matter which, because of the dry conditions, doesn’t decompose very fast.

It also makes a hard mud that’s adept at building up in various nooks and crannies. The region’s largely agricultural nature means there’s plenty of unpaved roads and no shortage of mud and dust clinging to vehicles. Ford’s recall concerns the replacement of the Explorer’s rear suspension toe links, which Ford claims can be damaged by the region’s signature mud.

According to the automaker, “unique mud accumulation” in the rear frame pocket where the toe link attaches to the frame is to blame for the recall. The mud buildup can impede “articulation of the rear suspension toe link which may result in toe link fracture,” Ford said. “A vehicle with a fractured toe link may experience noise, unusual vehicle handling characteristics, increasing the risk of a crash.”

At least three accidents, including one with injuries, are linked to the mud-damaged suspension. Recalled vehicles will be fitted with redesigned rear toe links.

Oddly, this isn’t the first time Ford has had to recall this generation of Explorer for a toe link problem. Last year, the automaker took back 81,000 2014 and 2015 Explorers and Police Interceptor Utility vehicles to replace toe links in danger of fracturing due to poor weld quality.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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21 Comments on “Ford Explorer Recall Blamed on a Very Specific Mud...”

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Huh, it’s almost like the Explorer wasn’t designed with offroad use in mind. But that couldn’t be, could it?

    • 0 avatar

      I am going to channel Hummer for a moment and say: This is a situation where solid axle, BOF construction would have been an advantage.

      • 0 avatar

        Humvees have four wheel independent suspensions.

        • 0 avatar

          Humvee (HMMWV) – military vehicle with 4-wheel independent suspension
          Hummer – truck with solid axle made by GM. Often seen parked in front of nail salons.

          • 0 avatar

            Hummer – commenter here on TTAC. Thinks that if it isn’t BOF it is a pile of crap. Believes that GM should be ashamed that the Suburban isn’t still built like it was in 1991.

          • 0 avatar

            Wish Hummer had been here to comment on this.

            His requirements for vehicles are simple, as far as I can tell:

            Solid axle in the rear (also preferably in the front, but that’s negotiable)
            Eight cylinders, with as much displacement as possible
            Steel bumpers

          • 0 avatar

            @dal – in the situation of Police Cars in rural, rugged, desolate, dirt road areas – I would agree with him.

            I’ve noticed the Navajo Nation Police department is exclusively Tahoe and Chevy crew cab 4×4 for their police cars. Our sheriff’s department has a mixture of Taurus/Explorer PI and Tahoe, state police (who rarely leave the pavement) are almost totally Taurus and Charger with the occasional pickup.

          • 0 avatar

            PrincipalDan – in my region most of the “city” cops are in 4×2 Tahoes or Explorers with Taurus rounding out the field (A few Crown Vic’s are still in play).
            Rural cops are in 4×4 Tahoes, Suburbans, and crewcab 3/4 ton trucks. They all have winches and offroad bumpers.
            The K9 units are all in Suburbans.

    • 0 avatar

      Why that’s crazy talk. Everyone knows that taking a car based platform and giving it AWD makes it an awesome off-road platform. /s

      I have a co-worker with a Subaru and a 1st gen Tundra. He’s always complaining about the ripped boots on the Subaru and how it can’t go the same places as his Toyota. (he lives out in the sticks and off roads often). But he sure likes that Subbie AWD system and the better mileage for his commuting in the winter.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, because the majority of people that buy 4Runners, Land Cruisers, Range Rovers, etc. actually do hardcore wheeling with them. *eyeroll*

      Sure seems like a bizarre unique case that would be pretty hard to engineer for from the factory so good on Ford for fixing it.

  • avatar


    “That’s the soil type found only in those three Prairie provinces, which are well known for endless fields of wheat and canola”

    I was surprised to read that word, as it is derived from the Russian “chernozyom,” or “black earth.” The same term is used to describe the ground in fertile farming regions there. Don’t see much of that sort of linguistic borrowing from Russian. The only other example I can think of is “Bistro,” which came by way of France from Napoleonic times when victorious Russian troops would sit in French cafes and yell at their servers to bring something “bistro,” which means “fast/quickly.”

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you; I learned something today!

      I’m a sucker for a good etymology.

    • 0 avatar

      gtemnykh – – –


      Yeah, there’s all different kinds. Some washes off; some doesn’t. Some adheres; some doesn’t.
      I got the surprise of my life when I when went wheelin’ with my Wrangler in the Nicolet National Forest.
      The clay substratum is an adhesive, rheopectic* or dilatant goo that is BASIC (high pH), and it is mixed with silica sand.

      So what comes to mind when you get that combination? (HINT: It’s in many sidewalks and driveways.)
      IT’S CEMENT. (Except cement has CaO to push the pH up even higher.)

      Forgot to wash the undercarriage when I got home. 5 hot day days later, it was completely “cured”.
      So no washing and brushing now: I spent 2 weeks under that Jeep with a hammer and a chisel !!



    • 0 avatar

      Surprising number of Russian immigrants moved through the middle of North America during the 1800s. From Moscow and Sevastopol in Texas, to Kief and Russe in North Dakota.

      Huge numbers of Ukrainians settled in central Canada, the list of place names based on Ukrainian geography is so extensive, it has its own Wikipedia page.

      Not surprising that the name for “black soil” in Russian/Ukrainian made its way to the prairie of Canada.

  • avatar

    “…unusual vehicle handling characteristics, increasing the risk of a crash.”

    Ya think?

  • avatar

    Stubble-jumper’s get their own recall. Cool.

  • avatar


    Why did Joe Pesci suddenly come to mind?

  • avatar
    big al

    I thought the type of soil would have run down into the central part of the Great Plains and affected the Ford Explorer’s there,too.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Can’t blame only Ford for building a SUV that breaks if you actually drive in in more than a light mist: BMW has a recall for the X5 – front driveshaft U-Joint may fracture b/c the roller bearings may fail as there is no way to grease them up.

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