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NHTSA Opens Probe Into Parts Flying Off 2 Million Ford Explorers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation in reports that front windshield trim pieces are flying off some 2 million Ford Explorers.
Posted: February 11, 2023 - 4:41PM
Author: Marc Stern

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As if drivers don’t have enough to concentrate on as they motor down local interstates, there appears to be a new hazard, flying Ford Explorer parts. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into the issue. An investigation means that while the automaker hasn’t formally opened a recall – which is the automaker’s call and not the safety agency’s – it does mean that the issue is getting an in-depth look by the federal safety unit.

Ford Has Record Number Of Recalls

News that the safety agency has opened a probe into the issue follows recent news reports about the number of Ford recalls last year. By far, the automaker had the highest number of recalls for 2022 It’s also not the first year that Ford led the number of recalls, either.

According to recent reports, NHTSA opened its probe into complaints that pieces of Ford Explorer windshield trim pieces can fly off at highway speeds.

So far, that safety agency has received 164 complaints of trim pieces detaching from Ford Explorers and hurtling toward vehicles following behind. NHTSA says that the Explorers built from 2011 to 2019 are experiencing this problem. This probe covers nearly two million Explorers.

Information published on the agency’s website covers potential problems that might occur due to the issue. For example, it is quite possible that the flying parts could crash into the windshields of the following vehicles. Or if there was a motorcyclist following the Explorer, it is possible could hit and seriously injure the rider. The flying parts also pose a problem for motorcyclists because the flying pieces could cause the rider to lose control and crash or ride off the road.

So Far No Injuries Or Crashes

So far, this is all speculation. According to documentation posted on the agency website, says the agency has not received any reports of crashes or injuries.

The NHTSA investigation will investigate how often separations happen. And it will study the safety consequences of trim pieces flying off the SUVs.

Ford has said it is working with the safety agency on this issue. The NHTSA investigation has two potential outcomes. The first is a recall of all of the affected vehicles. The second is closing the case and letting the automaker handle it. Suppose one had to guess what might happen. In that case, it is likely that even if the safety agency decides against ordering a major recall, Ford will likely order a recall because of its history of notable recalls. It makes sense for the automaker to do this because it is great for public relations. As they say in politics, the optics of this would mean Ford would open its own recall and solve this problem.

Ford Motor Photo.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent many misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part

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