Normally, a safety recall concerns an intrinsic defect found in a vehicle and, barring some regional temperature-related issues, usually covers units sold throughout the country. While Ford Motor Company is no stranger to recalls, its most recent callback concerns late-model Explorers with a very specific problem in a very specific region.
Blame the mud.
Ford of Canada has announced the recall of nearly 21,000 2013-2017 Explorer and Police Interceptor Utility models, but only in three western provinces.
Why just Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba? It has something to do with the word “chernozemic.” That’s the soil type found only in those three Prairie provinces, which are well known for endless fields of wheat and canola and the ability to watch your dog run away for three days. The soil type is high in organic matter which, because of the dry conditions, doesn’t decompose very fast.
It also makes a hard mud that’s adept at building up in various nooks and crannies. The region’s largely agricultural nature means there’s plenty of unpaved roads and no shortage of mud and dust clinging to vehicles. Ford’s recall concerns the replacement of the Explorer’s rear suspension toe links, which Ford claims can be damaged by the region’s signature mud.
According to the automaker, “unique mud accumulation” in the rear frame pocket where the toe link attaches to the frame is to blame for the recall. The mud buildup can impede “articulation of the rear suspension toe link which may result in toe link fracture,” Ford said. “A vehicle with a fractured toe link may experience noise, unusual vehicle handling characteristics, increasing the risk of a crash.”
At least three accidents, including one with injuries, are linked to the mud-damaged suspension. Recalled vehicles will be fitted with redesigned rear toe links.
Oddly, this isn’t the first time Ford has had to recall this generation of Explorer for a toe link problem. Last year, the automaker took back 81,000 2014 and 2015 Explorers and Police Interceptor Utility vehicles to replace toe links in danger of fracturing due to poor weld quality.[Image: Ford Motor Company]