Ford Motor Company is recalling 661,000 Explorer sport utility vehicles (SUVs) over concerns that loose retention pins could allow roof rail covers to fall off the SUVs.
The recall applies to 2016 through 2019 models of the SUVs. Dealers can insert pushpins and replace any damaged rail clips or roof rail covers, Reuters reports.
Ford is recalling the SUVs at the request of U.S. regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started looking into the problem in the spring of 2020. That followed 11 reports of detached roof rail covers. It asked Ford to recall the SUVs in April. At first, Ford said a recall was unnecessary because it was unlikely a roof rail would detach. Then, on April 30, the company agreed to a recall.
Ford said in a press release Monday that the roof rail covers “may become detached from the vehicles while driving and create a hazard for others on the road.”
A Ford spokeswoman told Reuters the company does not know of any accidents or injuries as a result of the problem with the Explorers.
Ford Built the SUVs at a Chicago Assembly Plant
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Assembly Plant is the exclusive production home of the Ford Explorer. It’s a nearly century-old facility that Ford spent $1 billion to renovate in 2019.
While the Chicago Assembly Plant closed last March when the pandemic first struck, it reopened in May and sped up production to roughly the same as pre-pandemic levels.
The plant has remained shuttered for the past month because of a computer chip shortage that’s upending the auto industry. Ford extended the shutdown last week, leaving about 5,200 workers idled through the end of May.
Consumer Reports Gave the Explorer a Low Ranking
In November of last year, Consumer Reports ranked the 2020 Explorer SUV 22nd out of 26 total brands. It put Mazda at the top of the list for reliability.
“The Ford Explorer, redesigned for 2020, is one of the lowest scoring models from any manufacturer — domestic or foreign — this year,” Consumer Reports said. “Owners reported numerous transmission replacements, along with drive system, in-car electronics, power equipment and engine and body hardware issues.”
In fact, Consumer Reports recommended avoiding the 2020 Ford Explorer altogether. Although that make is not covered by this recall, Consumer Reports noted that the 2020 Explorer has a low reliability rating and has already gone through seven recalls. Other problem areas with earlier makes of Explorer include engine and transmission issues and electrical glitches.