The NHTSA is Investigating Certain Ford Explorers for Windshield Trim Detachment

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Major automakers deal with recalls all the time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) monitors complaints on safety and other issues and works with automakers to start the recall process if a defect is found. Ford has had plenty of recalls to deal with in the last few years, including one related to the Mustang Mach-E’s glass roof detaching. The automaker may be looking at another glass-related recall if the results of a recent NHTSA investigation reveal a safety problem.

The NHTSA has received 164 complaints related to the 2011 through 2019 Ford Explorer. Drivers report that the windshield trim panel can detach at highway speeds, with some people saying that flying trim pieces can hit other vehicles on the road. One reported a momentary loss of control, but no injuries or fatalities were reported.

This all sounds serious, but a recall is not guaranteed. The NHTSA investigation is a preliminary step in the process, through which the agency gathers information, complaints, and warranty information. If the agency finds a defect, it could send a letter to the automaker requesting a recall of the model. 

Ford has already issued several recalls for Explorer models built during those years. The 2014 Explorer, for example, has six recalls, all of which are related to the SUV’s suspension components and wheels. A recall issued in the summer of 2017 covers the Explorer’s hub unit bearing, which could allow the wheel to detach, and the most recent recall is for the rear suspension toe link, which can fracture and result in a loss of steering control. 

[Image: Ford]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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5 of 21 comments
  • Fred Fred on Feb 01, 2023

    Both my Audi and Acura had this problem. I just got some glue as recommended by the dealer. Who ever has to replace it next time will have some extra bit of work to do.

  • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Feb 01, 2023

    My wife has a 2017 Explorer (we love it) and this happened to it. The term "windshield trim" is a little misleading if not completely wrong. It's the piano black a-pillar cover. There's plastic clips- 4 IIRC, and a small amount of adhesive that hold it down. Ours came off and I spent $45 on an Amazon replacement.

    Not so ironically, it also happened on a 2018 Explorer rental we had. I also offered the Turo owner to replace it but he declined.

    • See 2 previous
    • Johnds Johnds on Jun 05, 2023

      I’ve driven the police version, and my few gripes is the poor crash test ratings and it seems very compact compared to the crown Vic I drove before. My police department doesn’t keep them as long as they did the crown Vic either.