July 15, 2021 NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 21V537000
A rear toe-link fracture can result in a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 21V537
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Potential Number of Units Affected 644,055
Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2013-2017 Explorer vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. Exposure to road salt can cause the cross-axis ball joint to corrode and seize, resulting in a fracture of the outboard section of the rear suspension toe link.
Dealers will inspect and replace as necessary, the cross-axis ball joint (CABJ) knuckle, and replace the rear suspension toe links, free of charge. This recall is an expansion of previous NHTSA recall numbers 16V-245, 19V-435, and 20V-675. Certain vehicles previously repaired will need to return for the new remedy. An interim notification letter notifying owners of the safety risk were mailed on September 10, 2021. Owner notification letters were mailed on March 16, 2022. Owners may contact Ford’s customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 21S32.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.nhtsa.gov.
There are no mileage or time limits for this program.
Customers that complete the 21S32 repair prior to July 31, 2023 will be eligible for a one-time replacement of the wheel knuckles (if needed). The eligibility for the one-time replacement of the wheel knuckles (if needed) is for six (6) months from the Repair Order date of 21S32. Please refer to Customer Satisfaction Program 22N01 for details.
Note: It will take 3-4 business days after 21S32 claim submission for 22N01 to show as an active program in OASIS.
|Vehicle||Model Year||Assembly Plant||Build Dates|
|Explorer||2013-2017||Chicago||September 4, 2012 through September 30, 2017|
|Elabuga||January 28, 2013 through July 28, 2017|
NOTE: Some of the affected vehicles are also included in one or more of the following field service actions: 16S18, 17S11, 18S43, 19S17, or 20S62. If affected, the Ford system will automatically close all of these programs upon claim payment of any of the listed programs.
REASON FOR THIS SAFETY RECALL
Some of the affected vehicles exposed to a highly corrosive environment where road salt is used extensively during winter months, have experienced a seized toe link ball joint resulting in a fracture of the outboard section of the rear suspension toe link. A seized toe link ball joint can increase bending stresses in the toe link outboard of the turnbuckle. Rear toe link fracture while driving could result in unusual vehicle handling characteristics, or difficulty controlling the vehicle and may increase the risk of a crash.
Before demonstrating or delivering any new in-stock vehicles involved in this recall, dealers are to replace both rear suspension toe links, check alignment, and adjust rear toe. This service must be performed on all affected vehicles at no charge to the vehicle owner.
OWNER NOTIFICATION AND MAILING SCHEDULE
Owner letters are expected to be mailed the week of March 7, 2022. Dealers should repair any affected vehicles that arrive at their dealerships, whether or not the customer has received a letter.
Federal law requires dealers to complete this recall service before a new vehicle is delivered to the buyer or lessee. Violation of this requirement by a dealer could result in a civil penalty of up to $21,000 per vehicle. Correct all vehicles in your new vehicle inventory before delivery.
- Ford has not issued instructions to stop selling/delivering or driving used vehicles under this safety recall. Owners should contact their dealer for an appointment to have their vehicles remedied as soon as practicable. Owners can continue to safely drive their vehicles.
- Immediately contact any of your affected customers whose vehicles are not on your VIN list but are identified in OASIS. Give the customer a copy of the Owner Notification Letter (when available) and schedule a service date.
- Correct other affected vehicles identified in OASIS which are brought to your dealership.
- Dealers are to prioritize repairs of customer vehicles over repairs of new and used vehicle inventory.
- Correct all affected units in your new vehicle inventory before delivery.
- Use OASIS to identify any affected vehicles in your used vehicle inventory.
DEALER-OPERATED RENTAL VEHICLES
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act law effective June 2016 prohibits a rental company from selling, renting or leasing vehicles subject to a safety or compliance recall. Please consult your legal counsel for legal advice.
TITLE BRANDED / SALVAGED VEHICLES
Affected title branded and salvaged vehicles are eligible for this recall.
- This safety recall must still be performed, even if the owner has paid for a previous repair. Claiming a refund will not close the recall on the vehicle.
- Ford Motor Company is offering a refund for owner-paid repairs covered by this recall if the repair was performed prior to the date indicated in the reimbursement plan, which is posted with this bulletin. Owners are directed to seek reimbursement through authorized dealers or, at their option, directly through Ford Motor Company at P.O. Box 6251, Dearborn, MI 481216251.
- Dealers are also pre-approved to refund owner-paid emergency repairs that were performed away from an authorized servicing dealer after the end date specified in the reimbursement plan. Non-covered repairs, or those judged by Ford to be excessive, will not be reimbursed.
- Refunds will only be provided for the cost associated with rear suspension toe link replacement due to fracture.
Rental vehicles are not approved for this program.
|Part Number||Description||Engine||AWD/ FWD||Claim Quantity||Order Quantity|
|DB5Z-5A972-T||Rear Toe Link Kit – See affected Engine and AWD/FWD detail||3.5L TiVCT||AWD||1||1|
|DB5Z-5A972-U||Rear Toe Link Kit – See affected Engine and AWD/FWD detail||2.3L GTDI||AWD||1||1|
WARNING: Suspension fasteners are critical parts that affect performance of vital components and systems. Tighten fasteners as specified. Measure the distance from the center of the wheel hub to the lip of the fender with the vehicle in a level, static ground position (ride height) before disassembly. When securing the new toe link, it must be secured at the previously measured ride height.
WARNING: Tighten the suspension bushing fasteners with the suspension supported at ride height or with the weight of the vehicle resting on the wheels and tires, otherwise toe link and bushing damage may occur.
NOTE: This recall is to be performed on both the right rear and the left rear suspension.
NOTE: It is recommended to perform this entire procedure on an alignment rack.
1. Position the vehicle on an alignment rack. Please follow the WSM procedures in Section 100-02.
2. Raise the rear of the vehicle by lifting the lower coil spring leaf.
4. Remove and discard both rear toe links. See Figure 1.
1. Remove and discard the toe link-to-wheel knuckle bolts and nuts.
2. Remove and discard the toe link-to-subframe bolt and remove the toe links.
NOTE: Do not torque the fasteners at this time.
5. Install the new toe links by reversing the removal procedure. See Figure 1.
- Only hand tighten the inboard fastener and snug the outboard retainer at this time.
7. Lower the vehicle onto the alignment rack with the rear adjustment rack slip plates loose.
8. Tighten the inboard rear toe link bolts on both sides.
- Torque: 111 lb.ft (150 Nm)
9. Set the tire pressure and perform an alignment and tighten the outboard bolt and nut on both sides. This completes the recall.
- Torque: 111 lb.ft (150 Nm)
NOTE: the frame side of the new toe link has a slot that is used for the alignment process. See Figure 2.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Federal law prohibits selling motor vehicle parts or components that are under safety, compliance, or emissions recall. Unless a part is requested to be returned to Ford, all parts replaced under this FSA must be scrapped in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal environmental protection and hazardous material regulations. Refer to the Parts Retention, Return, & Scrapping section of the FSA dealer bulletin for further information.
If 2011-2019 Ford Explorers or PIU vehicles require service of the rear wheel knuckle and/or rear wheel knuckle bushings, the recommended repair is to replace the affected rear wheel knuckle (5B758/9) as an assembly only. Refer to WSM, Section 204-02, and the Ford Service Parts Catalog as needed.
Ford has received reports of toe link failures on customer vehicles after the installation of non-OEM cross-axial ball joints (aka bushings) in the rear wheel knuckle. Installation of aftermarket bushings rather than replacement of the rear wheel knuckle assembly is not recommended, as this may limit the movement of the joint and cause stress on the toe link. In the reports that Ford received, the toe links failed shortly after installation of an aftermarket bushing installed by the dealership.
Dealerships may have serviced rear wheel knuckles, including use of aftermarket bushings, as part of preventive maintenance. These inspections and maintenance services sometimes took place as a separate customer paid repair when the vehicle was being serviced for the following FSAs: 19S17, 17G01, 16S18. Because these repairs would occur as a customer paid repair directly to the dealership and not submitted to Ford for reimbursement, Ford does not have a record of how many of these repairs may have occurred.
If your dealership performed repairs on the rear suspension of 2011-2019 Ford Explorers or PIU vehicles and installed aftermarket bushing(s) in the rear wheel knuckle instead of replacing the complete rear wheel knuckle assembly (at any time), you should identify all of the vehicles repaired with the aftermarket bushing(s), contact the customer, and replace the rear wheel knuckle as an assembly. Failure to do this may result in a toe link fracture. A fractured rear toe link will cause a sudden change in vehicle handling and increase the risk of a crash.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY PROVIDES DETAILS ON THREE SAFETY RECALLS IN NORTH AMERICA
DEARBORN, Mich., July 16, 2021 — Ford Motor Company today announced details of three safety recalls in North America.
Safety recall for certain 2020-2021 Ford F-350 Super Duty vehicles with 6.7-liter engine and single rear wheel axle for a rear axle housing spring seat interface weld issue
Ford is issuing a safety recall for approximately 34,939 Ford F-350 Super Duty vehicles with 6.7-liter engine and single rear wheel axle for a rear axle housing spring seat interface weld issue.
Affected vehicles may experience rear driveline disconnection. Customers may experience vibration and/or shaking while driving at highway speeds, and/or shuddering upon acceleration. In the event of a disconnected driveshaft, customers may experience loss of motive power while driving or loss of transmission park function if the parking brake is not applied, increasing the risk of a crash.
This action affects 34,855 vehicles in North America, with the remaining balance in Ford’s International Markets Group. Vehicles were built at Kentucky Truck Plant between Aug. 6, 2020 and May 15, 2021.
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition.
Owner notifications will begin the week of Aug. 16. Dealers will inspect rear axle to determine if deformation is present. If the axle is deformed, the axle housing will be replaced. If axle is not deformed, the dealer will perform a weld repair on the spring seats. The Ford reference number for this recall is 21S31.
Safety recall for select 2013-2017 Ford Explorer vehicles that may experience a seized cross-axis ball joint
Ford is issuing a safety recall for approximately 774,696 2013-2017 Ford Explorer vehicles that may experience a seized cross-axis ball joint that may cause a fractured rear suspension toe link. Affected vehicles may experience a clunk noise, unusual handling, or a misaligned rear wheel. Fracture of a rear toe link significantly diminishes steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.
This action affects approximately 676,152 vehicles in North America, 59,935 in China, 25,257 in Ford’s International Markets Group, 13,162 in Europe and 190 in South America. In the U.S., the affected vehicles are located in high-corrosion states as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or in regions with a combination of cold winter weather with relative high humidity and substantial road salt use.
Vehicles were built at Chicago Assembly Plant between Sept. 4, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2017, and Elabuga Assembly Plant in Russia between Jan. 28, 2013 and July 28, 2017.
Ford is aware of six allegations of injury related to this condition in North America.
Owner notifications will begin the week of Aug. 23. Dealers will inspect the cross-axis ball joint, replace the cross-axis ball joint/knuckle as necessary, and replace the toe links with a revised design part. The Ford reference number for this recall is 21S32.
Safety recall for select 2020-2021 Lincoln Aviator vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter gas engines for improperly secured battery cable wire harnesses
Ford is issuing a safety recall for approximately 40,995 2020-2021 Lincoln Aviator vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter gas engines because the battery cable wire harness may not be properly secured, allowing contact with the A/C compressor pulley. Over time, the A/C pulley may rub through the wire harness insulation and contact the unfused battery positive (B+) circuit, resulting in a short circuit and potential fire.
This action affects approximately 36,258 vehicles in North America, 2,601 in Ford’s International Markets Group, and 2,136 in China.
Vehicles were built at Chicago Assembly Plant between June 19, 2019 and Jan. 5, 2021.
Ford is not aware of any accidents, injuries or fires related to this concern.
Owner notifications will begin the week of July 30. Dealers will inspect the vehicle, and:
- If there is no evidence that the battery cable has contacted the A/C compressor pulley, they will add a tie strap near the frame rail between the battery cable harness and the engine compartment harness.
- If any of the small gauge circuits are damaged, dealers will add a tie strap near the frame rail between battery cable and engine compartment harnesses and replace the A/C compressor belt.
- If any of the four large gauge circuits are damaged, dealers will inspect the wire harness and replace the battery cable harness and will also add a tie strap near frame rail between battery cable harness and engine compartment harnesses and replace the A/C compressor belt.
The Ford reference number for this recall is 21S34.
Updated February 4, 2022
Chronology of Defect / Noncompliance Determination
Provide the chronology of events leading up to the defect decision or test data for the noncompliance decision.
During our investigation into reports of seized cross-axle ball joints on Explorers, we found that internal corrosion was the cause of the seizures. However, we did not understand the factors that were causing the corrosion condition. We shared this information with NHTSA and worked with the agency in our investigation. To aid in our understanding of this condition, Ford approved action 20S62 (20V675) in October 2020 to conduct a torque inspection of the rear suspension cross-axis ball joint (CABJ) on Explorer vehicles in North American corrosion areas that had been remedied under prior actions (19S17, 17G01, 16S18). Initial analysis had found that fractures could occur in the outboard section of the toe link, adjacent to the knuckle attachment, due to reverse bending fatigue under high stress conditions caused by a seized CABJ. The remedy for those vehicles involved replacement of the CABJ/knuckle as necessary.
November 2020 – June 2021: As stated in the Defect Information Report for 20S62, Ford continued its investigation into this subject. As of June 08, 2021 Ford, has received 48 reports of rear toe link fracture caused by a seized CABJ on 2013-2017 MY Explorer vehicles in the United States, including 16 reports alleging loss of vehicle control and/or accident, with four allegations of injury. All reports involve vehicles operated primarily in corrosion states that use significant amounts of road salt in winter months. Most of these vehicles had been remedied under prior actions and some (4) had not been remedied. To date there have been no incidents on vehicles that were not included in the prior actions.
Explorer vehicles were designed and built with two separate CABJ designs for the rear toe link attachment. To date, all incidents relating to this subject are on the CABJ design manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen AG that was installed in vehicles produced from September 4, 2021 – September 2017. No reports have been received on Explorer vehicles built after September 2017. Those vehicles utilize a different CABJ design.
Since November 2020, Ford conducted extensive testing to evaluate the CABJ field performance, including visual and physical evaluation of parts obtained from complaint vehicles and of parts retrieved from non-complaint vehicles in multiple non-corrosion cities. Investigation included bench testing, CAE evaluations and statistical Weibull analysis of field return parts and warranty data to predict sealing life.
Field Parts Analysis
The CABJ failure mechanism is a progressive buildup of corrosion in the joint that results from years of exposure to a highly corrosive environment where road salt is used extensively during winter months. All field part samples with extensive corrosion had evidence of road salt. All CABJs from corrosion regions evaluated exhibited seal and/or boot issues which allowed corrosive elements the enter the CABJ, resulting in some level of corrosion related degradation and increased torque. No parts from non-corrosion regions exhibited seal or boot issues. While low levels of corrosion in the CABJ do not pose a failure risk, those exposed to years of operation in regions with a combination of cold winter weather with relative high humidity and substantial road salt use showed high levels of corrosion that could potentially cause the CABJ to seize.
The difference between the samples from corrosion states compared to samples from non-corrosion states was stark. No internal corrosion was found in any field return parts from non-corrosion regions. Samples from corrosion regions had varying levels of internal corrosion.
CABJ Design Differences
Similarly, the field inspections found that a new CABJ design introduced in October 2017 has been successful in protecting the joint from internal corrosion and joint deterioration. Visual evaluation and physical testing of field return parts for the CABJ design used on vehicles produced after September 2017 found no evidence of CABJ deterioration similar to that found in the earlier design. No internal corrosion was found in any of the new design parts. This change in performance is due to changes in the sealing system, corrosion resistant grease, and improved corrosion resistant components found in the new design. And there are no reports of seizures in the newer population.
On July 8, 2021, Ford’s Field Review Committee reviewed the concern and approved a field action.
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries since the previous action 20S62 was launched.
October 27, 2021: Ford revised the number of vehicles potentially affected according to the latest registration information.
February 4, 2022: Ford revised the owner notification dates for parts availability.
5 Affected Products
10 Associated Documents
Miscellaneous Document – Chronology of Defect / Noncompliance DeterminationRMISC-21V537-6608
Defect Notice 573 Report
Miscellaneous Document – Chronology of Defect / Noncompliance DeterminationRMISC-21V537-1089
Manufacturer Notices(to Dealers,etc) – Dealer Notification re NEW VEHICLE DEMONSTRATION / DELIVERY HOLD – Advance Notice Safety Recall 21S32 Certain 2013-2017 Model Year Explorer Vehicles Rear Toe Link ReplacementRCMN-21V537-8742
Manufacturer Notices(to Dealers,etc) – Advance Dealer Notification re NEW VEHICLE DEMONSTRATION / DELIVERY HOLD – Advance Notice Safety Recall 21S32 Supplement #1 Certain 2013-2017 Model Year Explorer Vehicles Rear Toe Link Replacement
Interim Owner Notification Letter(Part 577)RIONL-21V537-6775
Miscellaneous Document – Chronology of Defect / Noncompliance DeterminationRMISC-21V537-2526
Manufacturer Notices(to Dealers,etc) – Dealer Bulletin re NEW VEHICLE DEMONSTRATION / DELIVERY HOLD Safety Recall 21S32 Certain 2013-2017 Model Year Explorer Vehicles Rear Toe Link ReplacementRCMN-21V537-5402
ISSUED Owner Notification Letter(Part 577)RCONL-21V537-1692
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