By on June 12, 2019

2016 Ford Explorer

This isn’t the first recall for Ford vehicles with rear ends that may step out of line, but it’s certainly the largest. On Wednesday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.2 million Ford Explorers in the U.S. out of fear that rear suspension toe links could fracture, leading to a loss of control.

The recalls covers 2011-2017 Explorer models, with Ford saying the issue has already caused one driver to veer into a curb. Over the past three years, several suspension recalls have dogged this generation of Explorer; the cause of the potential fractures ranged from improper welds to the accumulation of a certain type of mud.

Speaking of that mud, it’s more of a menace than originally thought. In a separate recall, Ford today called for the return of four Ford and Lincoln models sold in Canada to replace vulnerable rear toe links.

The largest recall covers 1.2 million ’11-’17 Explorers sold in the U.S., plus another 28,000 Explorers of the same age range in Canada. Apparently there’s a lone Explorer roaming around Mexico with this issue, too.

“Vehicles that are exposed to frequent full rear suspension articulation (jounce and rebound) may experience a fractured rear suspension toe link,” the automaker said in a release. “A fracture of a rear toe link significantly diminishes steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.”

The rougher the roads, the more likely it is that your Explorer’s rear end is about to get loose. Once recalled, dealers will replace the left and right rear suspension toe links with a new, forged unit and align the suspension.

In 2016 Ford recalled 75,364 Explorers and Police Interceptor Utility models from the 2014 and 2015 models years for the exact same problem. One accident and one injury resulted from the issue, Ford said.

Spring of 2017 brought another recall, though this one was located north of the border. In a strangely regional effort, Ford recalled a slew of 2013-2017 police and civilian Explorers in three flat Prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) for replacement of rear suspension toe links. The reason given was “unique mud accumulation in the rear frame pocket where the rear suspension toe link attaches to the frame, impeding articulation of the toe link, which may result in toe link fracture.”

Later that year, 2011-2012 Explorers joined the Canadian recall for the same issue, bringing the total number of affected units to 24,114. Three accidents and one injury resulted from the problem.

Now, the automaker wants to examine and replace rear toe links on four additional models in those three provinces. While Ford didn’t mention mud, one can assume it’s behind the recall of the 2010-2017 Ford Taurus, 2009-2017 Ford Flex, 2009-2015 Lincoln MKS, and 2010-2017 Lincoln MKT models in that same region. The total number of recalled vehicles amounts to 12,000, with one accident and injury cited by the automaker.

Like the Explorer recall, these vehicles will leave the shop with forged rear toe links in place.

In a twist of fate, the recalls come as Ford holds a press junket in the wilds of Oregon for the 2020 Ford Explorer — a model that’s (thankfully) new from the ground up.

[Images: Ford]

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14 Comments on “Rear Suspension Failures Continue to Plague Ford, Prompting a Dual Recall...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    You mean I shouldn’t be driving one of these FWD behemoths offroad or even on very dusty/dirty roads like the commercials keep showing me? :p

  • avatar
    TR4

    First
    On
    Recall
    Day

  • avatar
    tylanner

    “significantly diminishes steering control”…is shorthand for “Start praying that this recall doesn’t overlap with a recall on our safety belts or airbags..cuz yur gonna need em…”

  • avatar
    S197GT

    hey, cut ford a break, they’ve only been making vehicles since 1908. takes time to get the metallurgy of their suspension components matched against the physics of driving and the effects of environmental corrosion. they got the tires/inflation thing figured out, they’ve been moving slowly inward from there. in a matter of two hundred more years they very well may have the whole vehicle sorted!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Ford must hate the country’s first responders.

    First they try and kill them with CO poisoning and now they are trying to kill them with suspension failures.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    So do you really think we’ll shell out 50 large for a 2020 Explorer for suburban consumption?

  • avatar
    gasser

    Yawn. Another month, another Ford recall.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Independent rear suspension seems overkill for a minivan, a swing axle would have made more sense, it’s not like any buyer would have ever noticed the difference and would have saved Ford millions.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Once Mercedes came out with a geometrically impossible rear suspension in the early 1980s, the world was introduced to super-large squishy bushings to accomodate the incompatible arcs of the swinging links. But almost everyone in the industry thought “What a great idea!” And so gradually we ended up with various takes on trying to separate the need for fore-aft displacement for ride comfort separated from the pure suspension function, reaction to acceleration and braking forces, ride NVH isolation and finally passive steering, often taken care of by a toe-link.

    Too bad Ford used a cheapy stamped part on these Explorers thinking it could take the “heat”. Gives you an idea that the actual stresses in use are not what was originally computed, or the modelling was incorrect. Putting such multi-link incompatible arc suspensions continually through full jounce and rebound may well be of similar or greater importance to failure than mud. No way Ford or any other manufacturer would admit to under-development, so mud’s the cause and a hefty forged link the answer. What’ll fail next? Welded mountings pulling off the subframe instead?

  • avatar
    RHD

    The metallurgy of the parts provided by a lowest-cost supplier could be the culprit here. Sometimes they take… shortcuts… in order to eke a profit out of their business.
    Quality control testing should be beefed up, because this kind of recall gives the company black eye after black eye.
    Short-term profits of this type at the expense of long-term sales ruin reputations and market shares.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The metallurgy of the parts provided by a lowest-cost supplier could be the culprit here. Sometimes they take… shortcuts… in order to eke a profit out of their business.
    Quality control testing should be beefed up, because this kind of recall gives the company black eye after black eye.
    Short-term profits of this type at the expense of long-term sales ruin reputations and market shares.

  • avatar
    0Gravity

    Presumably this is sorted out for the 2020 Explorer? I’m strongly considering buying one this summer as a three-row family hauler.


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