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NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2013 Ford Explorer

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2013 Ford Explorer, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Front brake hose failure

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE14027

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: August 22, 2014
    • Date Closed: February 03, 2015
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Foundation Components:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-027 based on a report of 13 front brake hose (jounce hose) failures in 11 vehicles in the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (DCMPD) fleet of 46 model year (MY) 2013 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor (PI) vehicles (VOQ 10621634).The DCMPD fleet provided Ford with 71 jounce hoses for analysis, including 4 of the 13 failed hoses.Inspection of each of the failed hoses identified a small tear in the outer cover on the body end of the hoses on the outboard side. Ford-s lab analysis of these hoses identified splits in the inner liners 1.5-2.0mm from the end of the nipple (outside of the crimped ferrule joint).Ford conducted pressure testing of 10 randomly selected samples of the remaining 67 hoses that had not experienced leaks and 9 of the samples leaked at 6,000 psi.Ford-s examination of the 9 hoses that leaked in the pressure tests found 4 that failed on the outboard side of the hose (similar to the 4 leaking field parts) and 5 that failed on the body end of the hose on the inboard side.Four additional non-leaking hoses were sent to the hose supplier, Hitachi, for analysis.Broken yarn was observed in scanning electron microscope examinations at both the body side and caliper side hose to ferrule crimps, indicating severe bending stress had occurred at these locations. Hitachi supplied an additional set of non-leaking field return hoses and a brand new set of hoses to an outside laboratory (Element Materials Technology) for analysis.The lab did not identify any manufacturing or material deficiencies in the hoses and concluded that the hose failures were caused by excessive bending stresses.Based on the examinations of the returned jounce hoses, Ford conducted durability testing on new hoses that were the same design as those found on the subject vehicles.Ford first determined the worst case conditions for the hoses; jounce bumpers removed, internal rebound stops fully compressed, and shock absorbers attached. With the jounce hose installed, the steering was rotated to the maximum turn angle while the suspension was translated from full jounce to full rebound.This determined the maximum hose length of 13.0in (331mm) and a minimum hose bending radius of 1.6in (40mm).Using these conditions hoses tested on a Suspension Motion Simulator far surpassed Ford-s performance specifications. Twenty (20) complaints of front brake jounce hose failure were identified on a total of 18 Explorer PI vehicles, including the 13 hose failures in 11 vehicles from the DCMPD fleet that prompted PE14-027.The remaining 7 complaints included 3 from one fleet that reportedly occurred on the banjo block end of the hose assembly and single complaints from 4 other fleets.Only two brake hose assemblies were used in the subject and peer Explorer vehicles, with the BB53 level hose used until June 20, 2012, and an updated DB53 level hose used thereafter.No pattern of failures was observed by hose assembly, with 15 of failures involving the BB53 hose assembly (including the 13 from DCMPD manufactured in March 2012) and 5 the DB53 hose assembly built after June 20, 2012. No root cause was determined for the reported Explorer PI jounce hose failures, but Ford identified improper service repair procedures (e.g., hanging the brake caliper from the brake hose during brake pad replacement) as a possible contributor to higher than expected rate of front brake jounce hose leaks. ODI-s analysis of field data, hose inspection and test data did not identify evidence of any defects in hose material, manufacture or vehicle installation.The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The Agency will continue to monitor complaints and other information relating to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles and take further action if warranted.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Electric power steering failure

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE12017

    Component(s): Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: On May 27, 2014 and amended June 2, 2014, Ford Motor Company (Ford) submitted a Defect Information Report (DIR) to NHTSA describing a safety defect that may result in a sudden loss of power steering assist in approximately 179,027 model year (MY) 2011 through 2013 Ford Explorer vehicles equipped with electric power assisted steering (EPAS), including 82,328 MY 2011 Explorersthat are the subject of PE12-017.Ford has assigned the recall number 14S06.The NHTSA recall number is 14V-286.Ford's DIR indicates that loss of power steering assist while driving would require higher steering effort at lower vehicle speeds, which may result in an increased risk of a crash.Sudden loss of power steering assist while driving can occur in the subject vehicles if the system loses electrical power or whenever the system detects a fault that requires it to enter fail-safe mode, which removes power from the EPAS motor and defaults to manual steering.Ford's DIR indicates that the majority of steering assist failures in the recalled vehicles have been caused by an intermittent electrical connection in the Power Steering Control Module (PSCM) that can lead to a loss of the motor position sensor signal.Ford's remedy instructs dealers to check the PSCM for diagnostic trouble codes (DTC).If upon initial inspection a loss of steering assist DTC is present, dealers will replace the steering gear at no charge to the owner and update the PSCM with revised software.Following detection of a motor position sensor signal fault, the revised software will provide audible and visual warnings to the driver that a power steering system fault has been detected and will maintain steering assist for the remainder of that drive cycle.If no DTC is present, dealers will reprogram the PSCM with the revised software. Analysis of information from all sources identified a total of 969 complaints and 4,059 warranty claims related to loss of power steering assist while driving in the MY 2011 through 2012 Explorer vehicles, resulting in a complaint rate of 5.4 incidents per thousand vehicles and a warranty claim rate of 2.3 percent.ODI identified 15 crashes with evidence indicating loss of power steering assist may have been a factor.All 15 crashes involved low-speed impacts with roadside objects during turning maneuvers, resulting in minor vehicle damage or no damage.In one incident that occurred in a low-speed curve, the driver attempted to brake in response to the sudden increase in steering effort and inadvertently applied the accelerator pedal instead.This caused the vehicle to run off the side of the road and strike a wooden pole at approximately 15 mph.Another incident occurred when the driver was unable to to negotiate a left-turn at an intersection and ran off the road into a shallow ditch, resulting in moderate front-end damage to the vehicle and minor injuries to the driver that did not require medical treatment. This investigation is closed.All ODI complaints associated with this closing resume are listed in the Attachment 1.

  3. INVESTIGATION: Ford Explorer Exhaust Odor

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA17002

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: July 27, 2017
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System:Manifold/Header/Muffler/Tail Pipe
    Structure:Body

    Summary: ODI opened Preliminary Evaluation (PE) 16-008 in July of 2016 after receiving 154 Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) reports reporting exhaust odors in the vehicle occupant compartment of model year (MY) 2011 to 2015 Ford Explorers, which included one low speed crash event without injury.During the course of the PE, ODI identified additional VOQ reports concerning the exhaust odor issue, totaling 791 as of this writing.The complaints cover MY 2011 to 2017 Explorers.Eleven of the reports involve Police Interceptor vehicles, as do two other non-VOQ incidents ODI identified during PE16-008.Overall, ODI has identified three crash events and 25 injury incidents citing a total of 41 injuries.The alleged injuries, as affirmatively indicated on the VOQ reports, range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light headedness.One police incident alleged a crash with related injuries, and a second police incident reported a physiological injury allegedly from carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.Another reported police incident resulted in a rollover crash event with injuries.The Ford reports cited above were provided in the company-s August 24, 2016 response to an ODI Information Request letter sent during PE16-008.Therein, ODI identified 2400 reports (485 owner complaints, 1254 warranty claims, 606 dealer field reports, 55 legal claims), involving 2,051 unique vehicles, that appear to relate to the exhaust odor issue, and include 123 reports that are duplicative of the VOQ reports.A number of the Ford reports also discussed health effects similar to the VOQs, specifically nausea and headaches.During the PE, working in conjunction with NHTSA's Vehicle Test and Research Center (VRTC) in East Liberty, Ohio, ODI has tested multiple vehicles, including complaint vehicles.Additionally, ODI has conducted field inspections of complaint vehicles and crashes involving police units that occurred while the officers were on-duty.When possible, data has been collected to quantify carbon monoxide (CO) levels in the examined vehicles.During this Engineering Analysis (EA), the VRTC testing efforts and field inspections will continue.To date, no substantive data or actual evidence (such as a carboxyhemoglobin measurement) has been obtained supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the alleged hazard.ODI has obtained preliminary testing that suggests, however, that CO levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios, although the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation as part of the EA.Ford has issued multiple TSBs related to the exhaust odor issue, and in some cases revised those documents multiple times to provide dealership technicians with procedures to address complaints raised by consumers and police fleets.Concerns over the effectiveness of the procedures have been raised by vehicle owners in some cases.During the EA, ODI will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the TSBs.Through cooperation with police agencies, ODI recently learned that the Police Interceptor version of the Ford Explorer is experiencing exhaust manifold cracks, which appear to present a low level of detectability, and may explain the exhaust odor.During the EA, the root cause, frequency, and safety consequence of these manifold cracks will be evaluated, as will the extent to which non-police Ford Explorers are experiencing cracked exhaust manifolds.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Ford Explorer Exhaust Odor

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE16008

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: July 01, 2016
    • Date Closed: September 12, 2017
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System
    Structure:Body

    Summary: During the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-s (NHTSA-s) investigation into the Ford carbon monoxide allegations, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) identified additional Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) reports with similar exhaust odor claims.Presently, ODI has identified 791 VOQs for Model Year 2011-2017 Ford Explorers pertaining to exhaust odor claims.ODI has identified three crashes and 41 injuries potentially linked this issue.The reported injuries range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority being nausea, headaches, or dizziness -" all of which can be symptomatic of carbon monoxide exposure.Additionally, Ford provided 2,400 reports including owner complaints, warranty claims, dealer field reports, and legal claims, that involve 2,051 vehicles that may be connected to the exhaust odor issue.NHTSA's Vehicle Test and Research Center tested multiple vehicles, including complaint vehicles, during the investigation.ODI also conducted field inspections of complaint vehicles and crashes involving police units that occurred while the officers were on duty.When possible, data was collected to quantify carbon monoxide levels in the examined vehicles.Based on the information gathered to date, NHTSA upgraded this investigation to an Engineering Analysis (EA17-002).

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