Ford Explorer Driveshaft Article Image

In 2021, Ford sold over 800,000 utility vehicles in the United States alone. Over 200,000 of those vehicles were Explorers, by far the automaker’s top-selling SUV. The Explorer also happens to be the most recalled SUV in Ford’s lineup. In 2019, the newly redesigned Explorer produced 12 recalls, one formal investigation, 286 formal complaints, and 169 manufacturer communications, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The driveshaft recall is the latest to impact newer Explorer models. 

Ford Driveshaft Recall

Ford has recalled several Ford Explorer models from years 2020-2022 due to defective driveshafts that can cause affected vehicles to roll away. The recall includes more than 252,000 vehicles with rear axle mounting bolts that can break and cause the driveshafts to malfunction. Notification letters were issued to affected customers on June 6, 2022. The recall includes the following Explorer 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

Engineers from Ford first learned of the issue in 2020-2021 Explorers through warranty claims in August 2021. Rear axle mounting bolts in several vehicles were breaking by this time. They found that affected vehicles can eventually lose their ability to stay in Park, causing them to roll away.

According to Ford’s recall filing with NHTSA, the rear axle mounting bolts in affected vehicles can fracture during acceleration. The rear axle housing can move out of position, resulting in noise, vibration, and displacement of the Ford Explorer driveshaft. This reduces transmission torque to the rear wheels, which is necessary to keep the car in Park. 

Fortunately, there are no crash or injury reports related to the driveshaft defect, however, as of April 2022, there have been 235 warranty claims pertaining to the rear axle bolts. Ford announced that they will either update the electronic parking brake software or replace the bushing and axle covers, depending on the Explorer model. 

Warning Signs of a Defective Driveshaft

In several complaints filed with NHTSA, drivers describe their Explorer vehicles rolling away while in Park. One reads, “the contact owns a 2020 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while the vehicle was parked, unattended on an incline, the vehicle rolled backward without warning. The contact was able to place her hand on the brake and stop the vehicle. There were no warning indicator lights illuminated.” 

Dealer technicians and customers say that loud grinding or clunking noises often appear in Explorers with defective driveshafts. Explorer drivers have described these warning signs in multiple formal complaints filed with NHTSA, “While driving on the highway the 2020 Ford Explorer XLT briefly lost all power, exhibited jerking through the drivetrain and erratic engine RPMs, before regaining power. Thereafter, the vehicle consistently jerked during acceleration and deceleration, with an audible clunking sound, as if the vehicle was transitioning gears or drive modes (2WD-AWD).” 

Other Ford Explorer Recalls

2020-2022 Ford Explorers have been the subjects of several different recalls. In October 2021, Ford recalled certain 2020-2021 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Corsair, and Lincoln Aviator models due to defects in vehicles with 360-degree cameras. The video output in affected vehicles can fail, resulting in rear view camera image loss. In formal complaints of the Explorer to NHTSA, a high number of them mention issues with the rearview camera. 

In November 2021, Ford recalled certain 2021 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator models. Labeling errors may have resulted in the installation of incorrect rear suspension module components. This can affect the vehicle’s handling, ride height, and braking, increasing the risk of an accident. Previously, Ford had recalled over 675,000 2013-2017 Ford Explorers due to suspension defects that can affect handling and steering.

Safety defects have plagued newer Ford vehicles. This year alone, Ford has issued at least 30 recalls in the United States, affecting over 3.5 million vehicles. Recently, in May 2022, the auto manufacturer recalled about 40,000 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles due to the risk of engine fire. In June, three owners of affected Expedition and Navigator filed a class-action lawsuit against Ford, accusing the automaker of failing to disclose to customers that these vehicles can be prone to catching on fire.

Ford Explorer Powertrain, Engine, and Back over Protection Issues 

Driveshaft and powertrain issues are not the only problems that can appear in the Ford Explorer. A high volume of formal complaints made to NHTSA regarding 2020-2022 Ford Explorers mention a host of engine and back over protection defects. Some common symptoms of engine problems in these vehicles include stalling, fluid leaks, shaking, or engine failure. 

One driver described the following to NHTSA, “I was headed east bound on a two-lane state road with double yellow lines. My vehicle (New Ford Explorer ST, 2,407 miles on odometer) was on intelligent cruise control set for 37mph and in ‘normal drive’ mode. Without any warning, the engine began to shake violently, and the car began to slow down. The engine appeared to be running but would not accelerate. The vehicle came to a complete stop about 300 feet from where the problem started. The engine was stalled and would not start.” Several other safety ratings on NHTSA describe similar experiences. 

The rear camera in Explorer vehicles also appears to be defective. Several customers say that their screens periodically turn blue or shut off entirely. In one complaint filed with NHTSA, a driver describes how their 2021 Explorer’s rearview camera would randomly go blank depending on the outside temperature: “I have also experienced on multiple occasions my back up camera turning blue. There was a trend going for a while if it was hot outside it would turn blue all the time. However, over the winter months it periodically started changing blue.” The most common complaint on NHTSA regarding the rearview camera is image loss with the screen occasionally turning blue. 

The Experts in Ford Lemon Law

If you believe that you may have purchased or leased a Ford lemon, you could be entitled to protections afforded by both state and federal lemon laws. Each state offers its own guidelines for consumer protection. In California, if any of the following scenarios occurs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, your vehicle could be a lemon according to the lemon law legal presumption: 

  • The vehicle is sent for repair at least twice due to a severe safety defect that can cause injury or death; or
  • The vehicle is sent for repair at least four times for the same safety defect; or
  • The vehicle spends over 30 days in repair due to any defect

If you believe that your situation qualifies, you should speak with an experienced lemon law attorney who can review your options and eligibility. Through a fast, no-obligation consultation, one of our Lemon Law Experts can help you determine if you qualify and what you could receive in compensation for your lemon. We have helped thousands of consumers across California in securing the recoveries that they deserve. If you want to get rid of that lemon as soon as possible, contact us today.