— A Ford Explorer hood rust recall allegedly should have been ordered long ago, or so says a plaintiff who filed a proposed class action lawsuit about aluminum hoods.
The lawsuit alleges Explorer hoods suffer from premature rust and corrosion and bubbling of the paint.
According to the class action, the lawsuit includes: "All persons in the United States and its territories who, within the applicable statute of limitations period, and as shown by Defendant’s records, purchased or leased a new or used Ford Explorer."
The plaintiff claims Ford has known about the problem of hood rust for almost 20 years but refuses to recall the Explorers or provide owners and lessees with suitable repairs.
According to the lawsuit, the problem is caused by Ford's decision to use lighter vehicle frames on the Explorers since the year 2000. The plaintiff says Ford started installing aluminum panels into Ford Expeditions about 2000, its Ford Explorers in or about 2002 and its Ford Mustang models in 2005.
The Ford Explorer hood rust lawsuit alleges the automaker replaced the steel hoods with aluminum hoods because aluminum is lighter and increases fuel economy. But the aluminum hoods are allegedly prone to corrode and cause the paint to bubble and peel, problems that allegedly warrant an official recall.
Ford has issued technical service bulletins (TSBs) to dealerships since 2004 related to hood rust, beginning with TSB 04-25-1 applicable to 2000-2005 Ford Explorers.
"Some vehicles may exhibit a bubbling or blistering under the paint on aluminum body parts. This is due to iron contamination of the aluminum panel . . . Ford’s Scientific Research Laboratory has performed a number of tests on vehicle body parts returned for corrosion related concerns. Testing has revealed that the aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body part, prior to it being painted."
In December 2006, Ford issued TSB 06-25-15, titled “ALUMINUM BODY PANELS—CORROSION—SERVICE TIP” which applied to 2002-2007 Ford Explorers.
"Ford’s Scientific Research Laboratory has performed a number of tests on vehicle body parts returned for corrosion related concerns. Testing has revealed that the aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body part, prior to it being painted."
Ten years later Ford issued TSB 16-0028, titled “Aluminum Panel Corrosion” which covered 2002-2016 Ford Explorers.
"Some 2000 and newer Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles equipped with aluminum body panels may exhibit corrosion concerns appearing as bubbled and/or peeling paint with or without accompanying white dust. Panel replacement is not required."
Another bulletin (TSB 17-0062) was issued in August 2017 which told dealers to replace corroding aluminum panels in 2000-2017 Explorers, but the lawsuit alleges the hood rust problems have continued.
The plaintiff says the proof of that is the fact Ford issued another TSB in February 2019 which superseded all prior bulletins.
"Some 2000 and newer Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles equipped with aluminum body panels may exhibit corrosion concerns appearing as bubbled and/or peeling paint with or without accompanying white dust. Panel replacement is recommended." - TSB 17-0062
The Explorer hood rust lawsuit references complaints submitted to CarComplaints.com and how the 2012 Ford Explorer has received the most complaints about rust bubbles. The second most common complaint is cracked paint on the hoods of Explorers.
At the time of the filing of the lawsuit, the No. 1 complaint about 2013 Ford Explorers was bubbling paint on the hood, followed by rust bubbles on the hood.
Owners complain about hood rust on multiple Explorer model years and how Ford should issue an official recall.
According to the plaintiff, the Explorer new vehicle warranty contains a two-year extended coverage provision for defects relating to body panel corrosion, but Ford has allegedly limited coverage so that it applies only if a body panel “perforates,” which means it corrodes through completely.
"Your vehicles’ body sheet metal panels are covered for an extended Corrosion Coverage Period, which lasts for five years, regardless of miles driven. The extended warranty coverage only applies if a body sheet metal panel becomes perforated due to corrosion during normal use due to a manufacturing defect in factory-supplied materials or factory workmanship."
However, the lawsuit alleges the extended corrosion warranty is meaningless because it's impossible for aluminum body panels to perforate.
The plaintiff references court testimony concerning Ford Mustangs, a model that uses aluminum panels. During testimony, Ford representatives said they have never seen aluminum panels perforate completely through the material.
The Ford Explorer hood rust lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division - Cavette, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.
This Explorer lawsuit isn't the first where Ford has been accused of rust and paint issues. In 2018, a separate bubbling paint class action was filed alleging warranties were useless for 2013-2018 Ford Explorers, Ford Expeditions and Ford Mustangs because they use aluminum hoods and body panels.