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NHTSA asks Ford to recall 620K Explorer, Police Interceptor SUVS in U.S.

Ford Motor Co. has confirmed a recall of more than 620,000 Explorer and Police Interceptor SUVs in the U.S. and its territories, one year after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration raised concern about roof rail covers that could potentially create a road hazard.

At issue is the problem of pins that loosen and allow the roof rail covers to detach.

Ford announced the recall Monday for Explorer model years 2016-19 built at the Chicago Assembly Plant. Ford dealers will secure the roof rails with plastic pushpins and replace damaged rail clips and roof rail covers, as needed.

This action affects 620,483 vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories, 36,419 in Canada and 4,260 in Mexico, Ford confirmed Monday.

"A roof rail cover that detaches while driving can create a road hazard for other road users, increasing the risk of a crash," said a federal regulatory filing dated May 5.

The company said it is not aware of any reports of accidents or injuries.

Dealers were notified Wednesday. Customer notifications will begin the week of June 28 and end by July 2.

Affected vehicles are base models, XLT or sport trim levels with roof rail covers painted silver, black or absolute black.

"This situation is caused by incomplete or improper interaction between the roof rail cover and the molded retention pins which can result in reduced retention strength," according to the federal filing.

The component manufacturer of the roof rail covers and retaining clip is listed in federal documents as JAC Products based in Saline. The recalled part was introduced on Sept. 19, 2014, and taken out of production on March 3, 2019.

A chronology of events leading up to the defect decision is on file, too.

In April 2020, federal regulators inquired about 11 customer complaints related to detachment while driving. Ford reviewed warranty claims related to the component.

On May 20 of last year, the issue was brought to Ford's Critical Concerns Review Group. From May through August, the review group considered rates of detachment, severity and detectability of a loose or rattling cover and determined the issue did not present unreasonable risk.

From December to March 2021, Ford continued to monitor data. Ford "believed that the extended coverage program, in combination with the high detectability of this concern, would result in proactive repair of vehicles prior to progression of the issue to a potential detachment."

In April, Ford met with NHTSA to review data and NHTSA requested that Ford conduct a safety recall.

Warranty headaches

This latest recall falls into a cost category that new Ford CEO Jim Farley has said he's trying to contain and reduce.

Over the past three years, Ford saw an increase in warranty costs of $2 billion. Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told industry analysts after first-quarter earnings were released April 28 that the company had made "real improvement" on warranty costs, which the company "lowered by $400 million compared with last year."

This current situation occurred during the final 12 months former CEO Jim Hackett received pay and benefits from Ford. He was CEO from May 2017 to Oct. 1, 2020, and left the company after first quarter this year when his consultant role ended. One of the biggest launch debacles in history occurred under Hackett involving the 2020 Ford Explorer, which he said marred earnings for 2019.



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