Ford Explorer class action lawsuit alleges it was a mistake to use one axle bolt instead of two.

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Ford Explorer Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Subframes
Ford Explorer class action lawsuit alleges it was a mistake to use one axle bolt instead of two.

— A Ford Explorer class action lawsuit alleges 2020-present Ford Explorer 2.3L and Explorer 3.0L ST SUVs have rear subframe problems because only one rear axle horizontal mounting bolt was installed to connect the components.

According to the class action lawsuit, by using only one mounting bolt, the rear driveshaft can detach while driving and allegedly cause the Explorer to completely lose steering, braking and speed control.

The Ford Explorer class action lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs George Coolidge and John Wiggins. New York plaintiff Coolidge owns a 2021 Ford Explorer XLT 2.3-liter and Colorado plaintiff Wiggins owns a 2.3-liter Ford Explorer ST.

The plaintiffs do not allege their Explorers suffered from subframe or bolt problems that required dealer visits or repairs, but both plaintiffs say they filed the $5 million class action because they are now concerned about their Explorers due to the alleged subframe defects.

The plaintiffs argue Ford in 2020 redesigned the Explorer ST and used two rear axle horizontal mounting bolts to connect the rear differential to handle the higher torque rating and horsepower.

"Despite the redesign, the Rear Subframe Assembly that is actually installed in each Class Vehicle is not the newly designed assembly, but is the prior designed assembly Ford needed to redesign to accommodate higher horsepower and torque rated Explorer ST vehicles – the one that is defective." — Ford class action lawsuit

According to class action documents, Ford has done nothing to provide enough support because only one axle bolt is used, not two that is allegedly needed to prevent the rear differential from dropping.

Ford allegedly intentionally used a weaker rear subframe assembly with only one rear axle horizontal mounting bolt.

The plaintiffs contend Ford knew in 2019 the Explorers required a subframe with a total of four bolts, with two rear axle horizontal mounting bolts.

The class action lawsuit alleges Ford did use a four-bolt subframe, but only in a small subset of 2020 Ford Explorer ST SUVs with higher torque ratings and higher horsepower.

In what the plaintiffs argue is a "cover-up" of the Explorer subframe problems, Ford issued special service message (SSM) 50471 in February 2022 for 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST vehicles. SSM 50471 told dealers, “[s]ome 2020-2022 Explorer vehicles may exhibit a rear axle mounting bolt that has broken.”

“In order to correct the condition, the rear subframe, differential cover, and mounting bolts will need to be replaced in addition to any other damaged components.” — Ford Explorer SSM 50471

Then in April 2022, Ford announced a recall of these Explorers:

  • 2020-2021 Ford Explorer Police Hybrid Electric
  • 2020-2021 Ford Explorer Police 3.3L
  • 2020-2022 Ford Explorer 2.3L RWD
  • 2020-2022 Ford Explorer Plug-in Hybrid Electric 3.0L
  • 2020-2022 Ford Explorer Hybrid Electric 3.0L
  • 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST3 3L

Ford also announced customer satisfaction program 22N06 in June 2022 for free rear axle bolt replacements on 2020-2022 Ford Explorers.

"This program provides a no-cost, one-time repair (if needed) to the rear axle bolt for 10 years of service or 150,000 miles from the warranty start date of the vehicle, whichever occurs first. This is a one-time repair program. If a vehicle has already exceeded either the time or mileage limits, this no-cost, one-time repair will last through September 30, 2023. Coverage is automatically transferred to subsequent owners." — 22N06

In May 2023, Ford announced another Explorer recall related to axle bolts and driveshafts.

But according to the plaintiffs, none of Ford's actions fix the original problem of using only one rear axle horizontal mounting bolt instead of two.

And just days ago, U.S. federal safety regulators opened a Ford Explorer axle bolt and subframe investigation to determine if the recalls were adequate.

The Ford Explorer class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division): Coolidge, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Miller Law Firm, P.C., Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, and Emerson Firm, PLLC.


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