Ford Explorer Axle Bolt Recall Failed, Alleges Lawsuit

Class action lawsuit alleges 2020-2023 Ford Explorer subframes need 2 bolts, not 1.

Ford Explorer Axle Bolt Recall Failed, Alleges Lawsuit

Posted in News

— A Ford Explorer rear axle bolt recall allegedly has done nothing to repair 2020-2023 Explorers equipped with one-bolt subframes.

Eleven Ford Explorer owners filed a class action lawsuit which alleges recalls and repairs have left owners driving dangerous vehicles.

The plaintiffs assert the Explorer subframes are defective because they really need two bolts, not just one.

According to the Ford Explorer class action lawsuit, the rear axle mounting bolt can break which then has the potential to disconnect the driveshaft and rear differential, causing a loss of power to the rear wheels.

The plaintiffs say they “fear for [their] safety” and have “lost confidence in the ability of [the Ford Explorer] to provide safe and reliable transportation.”

However, Ford obviously sees things much differently.

Washington Plaintiffs John Collier and Krysta Renfro bought their 2021 Explorer in October 2021, but in September 2022 the Explorer allegedly began losing power while driving. The dealership diagnosed the problem as a fractured rear axle bolt, so the dealer replaced the parts under warranty.

But in May 2023, the Explorer allegedly did not accelerate from a stop at a traffic light. The dealership found damage to components in the rear subframe, including a fractured rear axle bolt.

The Explorer was again repaired, and Ford notes the plaintiffs do not allege they paid anything to have the vehicle fixed, and the customers don't contend the problem has recurred.

Alabama plaintiff Alex Samuels alleges the Ford Explorer rear axle bolt fractured in 2023, three years after he bought his 2020 Explorer. However, Ford argues the busted rear axle bolt was replaced for free under warranty.

According to a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Ford argues the other Explorers have not had any problems at all.

The Explorer lawsuit alleges the bolts can break due to an inability to “cope with the twisting stress from the rear differential” and the need for the rear subframe “to be made of sufficient materials and mounted in a way that [] loads do not overwhelm [and] fracture . . . those materials.”

But Ford told the judge the plaintiffs only make a "generalized assertion" about why bolts break, and they fail to plead precisely why the bolt can break or what is wrong with a one-bolt design.

The Explorer class action also alleges two bolts are used in Ford Explorers “with higher horsepower and torque ratings.” But Ford argues the plaintiffs do not explain why that would be necessary for the 2020-2023 Explorers named in the lawsuit, which the plaintiffs admit have lower horsepower and torque.

Ford Explorer Rear Axle Bolt Recall

Ford announced an Explorer rear axle bolt recall in 2022 because the bolt could suffer fatigue cracking.

Ford argues the 2022 recall says nothing about the "comparative benefits of a subframe designed with two rear axle mounting bolts—let alone conclude that two bolts would remedy the potential for a bolt to fracture."

Because a broken bolt reduces torque to the rear wheels which is necessary to hold the Explorer in PARK and prevent rollaway, Ford says:

"[T]he recall establishes a remedy program in which dealers will update the vehicles’ software so that it automatically engages the electronic parking brake every time the vehicle is shifted into park."

According to Ford, another Explorer rear axle bolt recall was issued in October 2023 to supplement the 2022 recall. The 2023 recall has dealers replacing the subframe bushings and any cracked rear axle bolts for free.

Ford Explorer rear axle bolt recall documents also say customers can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses relating to the problems.

Ford notes the lawsuit doesn't mention if any plaintiffs have taken advantage of the free 2023 recall repairs.

"Despite the recalls and the absence of any allegations Plaintiffs’ vehicles currently have a fractured bolt or that they have paid anything out-of-pocket to replace a fractured bolt, Plaintiffs are pursuing this class action claiming that a one-bolt design is defective because it can lead to a fractured bolt, that Ford knew this before they bought their vehicles, and that this caused them to pay more for their vehicles than they were actually worth." — Ford

In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Ford asserts the Ford Explorer rear axle bolt recalls, overseen by federal safety regulators, should automatically shut down the class action lawsuit under the "prudential ripeness doctrine."

The Ford Explorer rear axle bolt class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Tacoma): Collier, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.

The plaintiffs are represented by Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Berger Montague PC, and Corpus Law Patel, LLC.