Three Ford Explorer owners claim a rear subframe axle bolt recall won't fix the Explorers.

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Ford Explorer Rear Axle Bolt Fractures Cause Lawsuit
Three Ford Explorer owners claim a rear subframe axle bolt recall won't fix the Explorers.

— Ford Explorer rear axle bolt fractures have caused a class action lawsuit that alleges a Ford recall did nothing to repair 2020-present Ford Explorer 2.3L and 3.0L ST vehicles.

The Explorers are allegedly equipped with rear subframes attached by only one rear axle horizontal mounting bolt.

The Ford Explorers are allegedly equipped with defective rear subframes that cannot handle the higher horsepower and torque of the Explorers.

The class action lawsuit alleges the Explorers are equipped with one rear axle horizontal mounting bolt that fractures and causes the rear differentials to drop.

This can allegedly cause destruction of the suspension, driveshaft and exhaust components.

The Ford Explorer rear axle bolt lawsuit was filed by these plaintiffs:

  • Bradley Caricofe / Virginia / 2021 Ford Explorer ST
  • Shawn and Julie Thibodeaux / Texas / 2022 Ford Explorer ST
  • Kenneth and Leanne Hunnel / California / 2021 Ford Explorer ST

None of the plaintiffs allege their Explorers had any problems with the subframes, axles or bolts. The plaintiffs say they received recall notices and dealers performed the recommended recall repairs. But the plaintiffs contend the recall repairs aren't adequate, even though federal safety regulators approved the Ford Explorer repairs.

According to the class action, Ford Explorer drivers can completely lose control of the vehicles if the rear axle bolts fracture while driving.

The lawsuit alleges Explorer owners complain about rear subframe bolt problems but dealerships allegedly refuse to make repairs, even when the Explorers are covered by warranties.

Ford was allegedly aware of the Explorer rear axle bolt fractures in at least 2019 and "likely several years prior." According to the owners who filed the class action lawsuit, the Explorers require two rear axle mounting bolts, not one.

"Ultimately, Ford implemented the four bolt subframe in only a small subset of the 2020 Ford Explorer STs with higher horsepower and torque ratings, the rollout for which immediately preceded the Class Vehicles. On information and belief, Ford willfully substituted the unsafe rear subframe assembly (with one rear axle mounting bolt) for the safer-as-designed four bolt assembly due to supply chain issues beginning in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic." — Ford Explorer rear axle bolt lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges Ford concealed the rear subframe axle bolt fractures to prevent owners from knowing about the alleged failures.

The class action asserts Ford knew of the bolt problem because a special service message (SSM) was issued in February 2022 for 2020-2022 Explorers.

“Some 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 SSM 50471

Then in April 2022, Ford announced an Explorer rear axle bolt recall for vehicles with older versions of electronic parking brake software.

The Ford Explorer rear axle horizontal mounting bolt recall included these vehicles.

  • 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

According to Ford Explorer recall documents:

"Affected vehicles were built with a 3-point mounted axle design. On some units the rear axle horizontal mounting bolt may fracture. Powertrain torque through the driveline causes axle rotation of the pinion angled towards the subframe, which exerts a bending force on the rear axle bolt. Peak torque is normally experienced during a launch event. After numerous peak torque events are experienced, the bolt may suffer a fatigue failure, which will lead to the axle housing moving out of position, resulting in a condition described by customers and dealer technicians variably as loud, grinding, binding, or clunking noises."

Ford also announced customer satisfaction program 22N06 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

The Ford Explorer rear axle bolt class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California: Caricofe, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.

The plaintiffs are represented by Capstone Law APC.


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