Anyone who owns or leases a 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST or 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator and has experienced problems with their rear subframe assemblies, including fracture of the rear axle bolt.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys have reason to believe these vehicles were manufactured with inferior and unsafe rear subframes, which may lead to catastrophic vehicle damage and put drivers at an increased risk of an accident. One lawsuit involving the Ford Explorer ST has already been filed, and attorneys want more drivers who’ve experienced rear subframe problems to come forward.
What Are Some Symptoms of Rear Subframe Problems?
Drivers may experience components disconnecting or dropping from underneath the vehicle, sudden loss of power, lack of acceleration, vibrating, and grinding and clunking noises.
What You Can Do
If you’ve experienced fracture of your car’s rear axle horizontal mounting bolt or any of the other problems described above, fill out the form on this page to share your story.
How Could a Lawsuit Help?
Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator drivers who’ve experienced issues with their rear subframes may be able to recover money for repair costs, time spent diagnosing and fixing their vehicles, loss of vehicle value and more.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to anyone who owns or leases a 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST or 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator and has experienced problems with the rear subframe, a structure that supports the axle, suspension and powertrain.
They’re investigating whether a serious design defect is causing the rear axle bolt on the subframe to fracture without warning, which can cause components to disconnect or drop from the car and the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Specifically, the attorneys have reason to believe that Ford and Lincoln manufactured the vehicles’ rear subframes with three bolts instead of the customary four and hid this design choice – and the associated dangers – from potential buyers.
At least one proposed class action lawsuit has been filed over the Explorer ST models alleging Ford knew about the problem but didn’t do enough to fix it – and attorneys believe certain newer-model Lincoln Aviators have the same subframe design and could also be included in a lawsuit.
Do you own or lease a 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST or 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator? Did you experience issues with the rear subframe? If so, fill out the form on this page and share your story. You may be able to take action against the automaker to recover money for repairs, loss of vehicle value and more.
Lincoln Aviator, Ford Explorer Rear Subframe Issue Explained
The rear subframe in the Ford Explorer ST was designed to be connected to the rear differential with four bolts, which includes two rear axle horizontal mounting bolts, according to an ongoing lawsuit against the automaker. This is different from the design of the standard Ford Explorer model, which uses a three-bolt subframe assembly due to its lower horsepower and torque rating.
It’s been alleged that while a small subset of 2020 Ford Explorer STs with higher horsepower and torque were manufactured with the four-bolt assembly, Ford began using the rear subframe assembly with the single rear axle mounting bolt in 2020 due to COVID-related supply chain issues.
Attorneys believe the 2021 and 2022 Lincoln Aviator models were made with the same inferior and unsafe subframe design and are therefore prone to issues similar to those experienced by certain Ford Explorer ST drivers.
They suspect the automakers knew or had reason to know about the rear subframe issues from complaints made to dealers, repair orders, pre-production testing and more.
Rear Subframe Problems: What Are the Symptoms?
Signs of a rear subframe issue, including fracture of the rear axle bolt, may include:
Components disconnecting or dropping from underneath the vehicle
Lack of acceleration
Grinding and clunking noises
In addition, should the rear axle bolt suddenly fail while the car is in motion, the driver may lose control of the vehicle. This may increase the risk of a collision with other drivers or pedestrians due to the driver’s inability to maintain steering, braking and speed control.
Ford Explorer Rear Axle Bolt Recall: What Happened?
In April 2022, Ford Motor Company recalled certain 2020 to 2022 Ford Explorer models, including some ST SUVs, over concerns the rear axle horizontal mounting bolt may fracture. The recall report states that should the bolt break, the driveshaft/half shafts may disconnect, “resulting in loss of transmission torque to the rear wheels, which is necessary to hold the vehicle in park.” Ford stated that if the parking brake is not applied, the vehicle may roll away while in park, increasing the risk of an accident or injury.
The recall provided affected drivers with a free software update to ensure the parking brake engages while the car is parked to prevent rollaway in case the bolt fractures and causes the driveshaft to disconnect. Attorneys believe, however, that this is not a true fix for the problem.
It has also been alleged that, when presented with the rear subframe issue, dealers have been instructed to inform consumers that there is nothing wrong or perform repairs that merely mask the problem, such as installing a software update or replacing the rear subframe with an equally defective part.
There does not appear to be any similar recall for the Lincoln Aviators, though attorneys believe the 2021 and 2022 models were also manufactured with the three-bolt rear subframe.
Ford Explorer Rear Subframe Complaints
Below you will find a sample of complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the three-bolt subframe issue and Ford’s handling of the recall [sic throughout, emphasis ours]:
After receiving a Ford issued recall for a potential rear axle bolt fracture, the dealer reprogrammed the PCM…After this PCM update, the vehicle would randomly slam to a complete stop while driving…We took the vehicle to the dealership several times, but they said they were not able to reproduce the issue, and continually returned the vehicle to us despite our grave concern for high risk of crash and injury…Ultimately, the issue happened again, and slammed while driving down a hill at about 40-50 mph, but this time the slamming was immediately followed by seemingly disengaging the drivetrain and causing the vehicle to roll downhill with no ability to accelerate, ultimately causing me to roll into a utility pole. Ford has since repurchased the vehicle, but given the severe safety risk associated with this issue and Ford's poor handling of our situation, I wanted others and the NHTSA to be aware…” — NHTSA ID Number: 11517162, 2021 Ford Explorer driver
Vehicle developed a clicking noise when accelerating/decelerating. Noise also present when switching between drive/reverse. Ford dealer found that driveline was flexing. Closer inspection revealed that the bushing for the single bolt rear subframe mounting to rear differential was broken. Had this not been caught, the bolt would have broken releasing the rear driveline from the structure of the vehicle. The 2020 Ford Explorer ST had two bolts that connected the rear diff to the rear subframe. In 2021-2022 Ford changed this to a one bolt design. This triggered the current recall for the 2021-2022 in which the 'fix' was to apply the emergency brake if the bolt broke. On the 2023 Ford Explorer ST model, Ford has returned to the two bolt design used in 2020.” — NHTSA ID Number: 11507632, 2021 Ford Explorer Driver, Keene, Virginia
This is my second submission. I will continue to submit to attempt to have NHTSA find out why FORD will only offer a software tweak to fix a very dangerous physical issue with all 20-22 Ford Explorers. Ford provided Advance Notice 22S27 to dealers dated 4/19/22 advising them to STOP delivery of any in stock Explorer due to a possible bolt fracture on the rear subframe which if cracked will disable the vehicle. Their ‘fix’ is a software update that will reduce power to avoid acceleration which will put stress on the bolt. Ford decided to remove the second bolt from all the Explorers which subsequently will put stress on the one bolt they left intact. Ford needs to recall and put that bolt back on the subframe as the vehicle was originally designed to have. Please, please address this issue with Ford to make them fix the physical issue!” — NHTSA ID Number: 11461908, 2022 Ford Explorer driver, Williamsburg, Virginia
My Explorer ST has the issue of having the incorrect rear subframe for the high-performance engine with only one bolt holding the differential to the rear subframe. I have talked to all of the Ford dealerships in my area. They said that this is a problem, but Ford has not provided a solution or any timeframe to fix this major issue. Another example of Ford not caring about their customers and putting profits ahead of safety. Why did they think that they could get away with installing incorrect parts for the four-cylinder engine on a vehicle that develops substantially higher HP and torque. This is my first and last Ford product I will ever buy. Why doesn't the NHTSA force Ford to fix this potentially dangerous issue.” — NHTSA ID Number: 11485961, 2021 Ford Explorer driver, Orem, Utah
What Could I Get from a Rear Subframe Lawsuit Against Lincoln, Ford?
In a potential lawsuit involving both the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator models, drivers may be able to seek compensation from the automakers for:
Loss of vehicle use
Loss of vehicle value
Time spent trying to diagnose and fix the vehicles
Attorneys believe drivers would not have bought their vehicles – or wouldn’t have paid as much for them – had they known about the rear subframe issue.
If you drive a 2020-2022 Ford Explorer ST or 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator and have experienced problems related to the rear subframe, fill out the form on this page today. You may be able to take action and recover money for the harm you suffered as it relates to your vehicle’s subframe.