Ford recalls more than 250,000 Explorers for roll-away risk

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Ford will recall 252,936 Explorers produced for the 2020-2022 model years to replace a bolt used to mount the rear axle to its subframe. This bolt can facture, allowing the driveshaft to disconnect from the axle assembly, which would make it possible for the vehicle to roll away while in park if the brake is not applied.

The recall applies to the 2020-2021 Explorer Police FHEV, Explorer Police 3.3L, and 2020-2022 Explorer 2.3L RWD, 3.0L PHEV, 3.3 L HEV and 3.0L ST. Explorer ST owners in particular should take note. Models that have been driven hard (aggressive launches in particular are problematic) are more likely to exhibit the issue, Ford said in supporting documents submitted to NHTSA.

"Affected vehicles were built with a 3-point mounted axle design," Ford's report said. "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."

"The joint design is not robust to peak axle input torques and manufacturing variability. The primary contributor is insufficient bearing area for maximum joint loads. This results in bearing area deformation, increasing bending stress on the bolt, which may lead to a fatigue failure," Ford said.

Signs of fatigue failure include loud grinding, binding or clunking noises from the rear end of the vehicle. The remedy for the issue is twofold. Customers will get a software update that will enable a feature where the parking brake will automatically be applied when the vehicle is shifted into park. Owners of some earlier examples (or any that show signs of fatigue) will get new mounting components for the rear axle as well.

Dealers will be notified beginning in April; owners will receive notices by June 10.

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