The Ford Motor Co. is recalling 661,000 Explorer sport-utility vehicles because retention pins can fail, permitting roof rails to detach.
The recall, for now, covers only SUVs sold in the United States. It has not yet responded whether it will act on versions of the Explorer sold abroad. The issue covers versions of the SUV sold from the 2016 to 2019 model years.
“Affected vehicles are configured with the Base, Police, XLT or Sport trim level with Black painted, Absolute Black painted, or Silver painted roof rail covers,” the automaker said in a statement.
NHTSA gets involved
The Explorer is one of Ford’s best-known models and the automaker has been expanding the number of versions it offers. Ford’s midsize SUV also has faced a number of recalls in recent years, including one announced last November involving 375,000 of the vehicles.
The roof rail problem has been known about for at least a year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an inquiry notice in early 2020 after receiving 11 reports involving detached roof rails.
The possibility of having a roof rail detach, “did not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety due to the low projected probability of detachment, low mass of the component, and high detectability of a loose roof rail cover through visual and audible means,” Ford said in a response at the time.
It initially said it would extend warranty coverage of 2016-2019 Explorer roof rails for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles.
Inquiry turns to recall
NHTSA accelerated the probe, however and requested Ford agreed to issue a recall on April 30. It now has provided details of the plan.
Of the Explorer models covered by the recall, 620,483 were sold in the United States, 36,419 in Canada, with another 4,260 sold in Mexico.
Ford says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries resulting from detached Explorer roof rails.
The problem can be caused by retention pins that could loosen and then let the roof rails break loose.
Not the largest Explorer recall
Only Explorers produced from September 19, 2014 through March 3, 2019 are impacted. These are facelifted versions of the fifth-generation SUV. The automaker completely redesigned the Explorer for the 2020 model year.
While one of the largest recalls the Ford Explorer has faced, the biggest was announced on June 12, 2019. That one covered 1.2 million Explorers produced from 2011 to 2017 due to suspension issues.
Owners will be notified by mail of the recall but Ford Explorer owners also may contact the automaker at 866-436-7332, entering recall number 21822 when prompted.