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Ford Buying Back, Replacing Problem-Plagued 2020 Aviator SUV

As reported several weeks ago in Torque News, the rollout of the Lincoln Aviator and its corporate twin, the Ford Explorer, has been anything but smooth. Now, the automaker is either buying back or replacing Aviators to keep customers happy.
Posted: November 28, 2019 - 2:01PM
Author: Marc Stern

Ford is just not able to win with its new Explorer/Aviator line. As readers of Torque News may remember a few weeks ago, the rollout of the Explorer/Aviator was anything but smooth. Ford has been shipping completed Aviators from their manufacturing site in the Chicago Assembly Plant to the Flat Rock Plant in Dearborn to fix various problems. The rollout of the Aviator and its corporate twin, the 2020 Ford Explorer, has been anything but smooth.

Some Of The Problems Plaguing The Aviator

The problems that have plagued the Explorer/Aviator include:

  • Air Conditioning that blows only hot
  • Suspension issues
  • The wrong emblems installed
  • The wrong trim pieces installed
  • The wrong wheels installed
  • Chassis issues
  • Transmissions that do not go into Park
  • Transmissions that do not sense if the vehicle is in Park

The problem had become so acute earlier in the model year that Ford tasked its performance partner, Roush, with assisting in the repairs. This assistance had followed earlier reports that the Flat Rock repairs required overtime.

Ford Offers To Buy Back Or Replace

With that said, Ford has also opted to either buy back or replace Lincoln Aviators (and one supposes its corporate twin the Explorer) from customers who complain. Indeed, The Detroit Free Press quoted a customer who praised the automaker for its “responsiveness” to the issue and in resolving the reported problems.

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The customer, Laurel Spencer, who had purchased a Lincoln Aviator, said she experienced problems with her SUV within two days of taking delivery. Lincoln worked and reworked the issues to the point that after 10 weeks, the automaker replaced the Aviator. She had praise for the “tremendous amount of responsiveness” the Ford luxury division displayed in resolving the issues.

Bette Bogdan, another Lincoln customer, apparently has soured on her Aviator experience. She hopes to be able to replace her SUV with either a Lincoln Continental or a Ford model.

Customer’s Graphic Description

Bogdan called her Aviator, “a demon.” Her SUV wouldn’t back up correctly as it suddenly many times in the middle of doing that maneuver. Also, she indicated that the rearview mirrors, at times, flapped like wings. Lincoln has taken responsibility for the issue and has notified the unhappy Aviator owner that they will either repurchase or replace the SUV with another.

Another owner reportedly noted that the interior of his loaner Aviator showed signs of leakage and other marks of a damp interior. He was driving the loaner luxury SUV while his Aviator was in the shop for repair.

Another frustrated owner reported that his Aviator has dual safety issues. The first is that the SUV accelerates at full throttle by itself. And the second is that the Aviator won’t go into Park. It is a worrying problem for this owner who is afraid to drive the SUV when the dealership notifies him of the completion of the repairs to his Aviator.

SUV Important To The Bottom Line

It isn’t a great situation for Ford as the Explorer/Aviator has been one of its bread-and-butter models for years. To the manufacturer’s credit, they are actively working with their customers to repair or replace faulty models.

About the Author

Marc Stern
has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper’s auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn’t much on four wheels that I haven’t driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.


Chelsea (not verified)    March 18, 2020 - 6:28PM

Ford has been terrible with my 2020 Explorer! I was one of the first to purchase the 2020 Explorer in August 2019. From day one the vehicle has had transmission issues. I've taken the vehicle into the shop 5 times for transmission repairs. It's even drove in the wrong direction on multiple occasions! The darn thing gets confused on what gear it's in. Currently, I'm fighting them with lemon law through the state, because their customer care refused to replace. Their engineer came out and said there's nothing wrong with the car (that was round the 3rd time car was in the shop). Now, with the 5th time, they are repairing ANOTHER leak.

FORD IS AWFUL! This is a fluff piece. AVOID THE AVIATOR AND EXPLORER at all costs!

Damir Kuburic (not verified)    June 26, 2020 - 5:24PM

In reply to by Chelsea (not verified)

2020 Lincoln aviator
Transmission issues
Body misaligned
Memory seat will move while driving
It’s been at the dealer twice so far in few weeks so let’s see what happeNs 3 strikes and I will never ever buy a ford Lincoln product

Roger Karstofsky (not verified)    September 5, 2020 - 11:19AM

My Lincoln aviator black label had radiator hose installed wrong at factory. Hose was cut and anti freeze leaked out. Towed car on flatbed to dealer, replaced hose only to find rear suspension had been damaged by tow hooks improperly placed. Entire rear assembly has been removed to fix, damage consists of cracked suspension arms cracked flange which will require subframe replacement, and many other problems
Each time the dealer try’s to reassemble car they find more problems. Safety and value of car has now been brought to my attention by dealer who I bought car from No support from Lincoln to resolve safety and value issues that dealer has told me will be if I decide to step away because of these problems, they would not attempt to resell car because of liability issues and car would go to auction. I did not create this problem and am expected to keep a car that maybe unsafe and lose value even after all repairs are completed. Car has been in repair for over 25 days and rear end has still not been reassembled, they are still waiting for more parts to complete.after this is done, damage from tow company to correct damaged rocker panels ,replacement or repair of front lower facia has to be done. Any help from you would be appreciated. All of this because of a hose improperly installed at factory.
If you would like to call me my phone is 231-256-7916.
Roger Karstofsky

Roget Karstofsky (not verified)    October 21, 2020 - 6:29PM

In reply to by Jeff Curtis (not verified)

Jeff, They gave me a new Aviator about 3 weeks ago. This one is fine. Are you the Jeff Curtis from Lake Orion that bought our house? I suppose it’s a common name. The other car is off to auction.
Thanks for asking

Marty Petrill (not verified)    September 30, 2020 - 3:04PM

My wife had an MKX that had some nagging issues. So we decided to replace it and looked at few different brands. I did not want another Lincoln, but we fell in love the the Aviator. My wife loved the body lines and room and I loved the 400hp twin turbo. So against our better judgement we bought the Aviator. With less than a 1000 mile on this SUV left my wife stranded at the grocery store. The car would not unlock. She tried the door code and did get into it. However everything else was dead. The car was towed to the dealership and the computer had to be cleared and rebooted. But it only gets better; the touch screen would not work properly, the radio has static, and the rear end has to be replaced. Today we were told that the screen cannot be fixed and the pre-set channels or the static cannot be fixed. Needless to say this $70K investment seems to be a heap of garbage (believe garbage is not the word I wanted to use.). Our concern is what is next and will Ford ever have a repair for these unfixable issues? Can someone please direct us to how we go about having this replaced by Ford as state in this article. The assistance on this issue is greatly appreciated.

Debbie Strickland (not verified)    October 29, 2020 - 3:52PM

I purchased my Grand Touring Black Label Lincoln Aviator on May 31st. On October 4th with just 5,000 miles my front air suspension went out and the front end was on the ground. I notified the dealer that it could not be driven and they needed to send a tow truck but they didn't they brought me a loaner and drove my broken car about 15 miles to the dealer. I was told that a part would not be available until November 9th as they are back ordered. I was provided a Lincoln Aviator but it isn't a hybrid like mine so I can't drive in the carpool lane, I am using more gas and my husband is a disabled vet and his handicap sticker is on the plate so we can't use that either. I had a free Sirus subscription so I can't take advantage of that and I also had a fast track sticker on the car so no fast track for my 50 mile drive. I had televisions for my grandchildren on long drives so paying a large car payment still for the options I can not use. Then today I went to go get lunch on my lunch break and I was backing out of a parking space and the air suspension is out of the rental Aviator they gave me and the front end is laying on the ground making the front end scrape if I try to drive it . The bad part is the rental car only has 920 miles on it and it's suspension is already broken.
I was told they don't have any rental cars similar to mine and they will call me back when they can arrange one. I am very frustrated with the Aviator as the air suspension has gone out in both cars I have driven which doesn't give me a lot of faith in the car. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

Nigil (not verified)    November 12, 2020 - 2:39PM

I am sorry to hear bad situations with Aviator . I was planning to buy 2021 but reading above experiences i am backing out

Catherine Corris (not verified)    November 29, 2020 - 8:33PM

From day one have carbon/sooty stains on my garage floor. Dealership says it's from exhaust and carbon from the muffler and is normal. NORMAL??? When I asked if they had seen in others service replied "no".
1st visit 3rd week owning:: HUD has wavey lines blurring info. Had to wait until replacement available. 7 months later is finally available.
2nd visit: The safety features started acting minute warns that I'm going to crash, next I'm too close to a car in front of me....when there is none. They re installed software" and said problem fixed. Was battery drain that caused it....also replaced battery.
3rd Visit: Driving on a long interstate trip, the dashboard lit up giving various "failure" warnings (lane change ,collision assist, hill start assist auto headlights,braking,cruise fail,,backup assist.) All failures while driving at 65-70 mph, at night,some in rain and fog! So much for feeling safe in my $70k vehicle!
Catr niw at dealership for over a week. They state they can't reproduce failures and can't see them on their computer equipment! Mind you, I got these notices immediately on my Lincoln app..which today now says there are no messages,!! Service also states the cars "computer resets itself and may have fixed problems"...Really???!!!
Requested Lincoln Field Service Rep come look at car and determine problem.since they can't find it.. Service said with covid this is not possible.
Now what.........

Marcello Mancini (not verified)    December 7, 2020 - 12:14PM

Does anyone know the contact number for the Lincoln buy back? I just bought a brand new 2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve 4 months ago, and it has broken down twice since then. The car keeps saying the engine coolant - over temperature, and the powertrain control system has detected and engine overheat condition. The engine will continue to operate at a reduced power level.

Jeffrey Johnson (not verified)    December 24, 2020 - 1:50PM

I’ve had my 2020 Lincoln Aviator since July and I’ve nothing but problems with it. It’s been at the service department approx 4 times for different issues. I can’t even enjoy the vehicle because the dealership always has it.

W. E. Santelli (not verified)    January 23, 2021 - 3:40PM

In reply to by Jeffrey Johnson (not verified)

Sorry to hear you folks are having problems with your Aviators. But I guess I should say thank you. I bought a "reacquired" Aviator here in Illinois that someone in Florida was not pleased with. The car was 4 months old, top of the line, loaded and I saved 20k on the deal. Been driving it for 9 months now, no problems and I love it.

Shannon M (not verified)    April 28, 2021 - 8:29AM

How are the 2019 and 2021 models of the aviator? We don’t buy new so any tips on purchasing a pre-owned 2020? Or should I stay away from that year completely?

Willie (not verified)    May 7, 2021 - 8:39AM

I was planning to purchase an Aviator, and had nuanced every type of option & package to assure the best combo for me for various long road trips. Dropped the plan after reading so many negative events, decided to stop shopping altogether.

As a long term utility SUV, would a standard Aviator, with Dynamic Handling (if you could custom order it with this option - without being upsold with a package - which I doubt!), drive and ride better than the Platinum Explorer?

The difference in cost to move to Reserve from Standard is almost $20,000.00 and $35,000.00 if you go to Grand Touring Reserve and more for Black Label....

And at that point, i could make similar comparison to Navigator vs. Aviator, an entirely different platform that drives better and delivers more over-the-road comfort for long trips, than the best Aviator because the seats are 2" wider and the overall vehicle is bigger from road to roof.

Steven Fischer (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 2:49PM

I have an Aviator which was purchased in July 2020. This is a nice vehicle if they can get the bugs out of it. The most annoying problem I've had is interference generated by the vehicle and gets into the AM radio. I suspect the interference is generated by proximity sensor system as the interference only happens when the vehicle is in motion. Ford/ Lincoln has been no help so far. I keep hearing "as designed". This is not the right answer. I may live with this problem for awhile but it will be my last Ford/ Lincoln if they don't fix it right. Somebody posted the identical issue on the Ford explorer on a Youtube video so I know its not just my vehicle. Other issues have been minor in nature. I've had the car slam on the brakes while backing up even though there was no obstruction behind me. This is a real attention getter as it feels like you ran into something. Fortunately this has only happened 3 times during my ownership. At least I have not had some of the more serious problems that people have reported.

Sally (not verified)    August 14, 2021 - 2:19PM

I am currently working with Lincoln Conceirge on my 2nd case to buy back my 2020 Aviator,,, too many problems to list all- currently no AC for 2 weeks and I am in TEXAS!
No loaners available
Was promised a decision by end of business yesterday- crickets!
Going in Monday to dealership as they are going to rent me a car so mine can get fixed! So bummed as this car was the most comfortable I have ever had for my messed up back!