Exactly three Escapes and four Explorers are affected

Ford just issued two of the smallest safety compliance recalls in history. The automaker has reason to believe three 2016 Escape crossovers and four Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles left the factory with defects, which could potentially cause harm to users. These laughably small recalls are juxtaposed against another recall announced at the same time. This one affects 402,000 Transit vans built between 2015 and 2017. While these larger recalls have seemingly become “business as usual” for automakers, it’s rare to hear a voluntarily recall for vehicles in the single digits.

In fact, only BMW has Ford beat, according to online information. It recalled a single – one, uno, 1.02017 X3 xDrive28i back in October of 2016 for an issue with its electronic power steering. Of course, I’m not counting boutique automakers with relatively tiny production numbers like McLaren, Pagani, and Koenigsegg. At the opposite end of the recall spectrum, the ongoing Takata airbag recall has entangled more than two-dozen automakers and nearly 70 million vehicles. The recall began in 2013 due to faulty inflators that could explode upon airbag deployment, sending metal shrapnel into passengers’ faces. Sadly, at least 11 deaths and more than 150 injuries have been reported in the U.S. alone. Thankfully, Ford has no reports of injuries resulting from the Explorer, Escape, or Transit van. So what exactly is prompting these recalls? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for more information.

What These Recalls Are About

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility High Resolution Exterior
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Three…
Ford says four of its 2017 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, which are based on the Explorer, could be missing inboard anchor bolts on the second-row bench. Obviously, if the seat isn’t secured to the floor, passengers could experience an extra wild ride in a collision. That’s especially true for these police cars since most have steel cages ahead of second-row passengers. As mentioned, Ford is unaware of any injuries from this issue. The Explorers in question were built on January 20, 2017, at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant in Illinois.

2017 Ford Escape
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Two…
As for the three Escape models, Ford says the driver’s knee airbag might not properly inflate during a crash due to low levels of inflator gas generant material. These three Escapes were built on December 18, 2015, at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. While knee airbags are a relatively new safety system and vehicles have gone without them for 100 years, they are part of the Escape’s advertised (and NHTSA rated) safety equipment. Having them work properly is important. But, as least they’re not shooting shrapnel like Takata’s airbags. Likewise, no injuries have been reported from this issue.

2014 Ford Transit High Resolution Exterior
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402,462…
The Transit van recall is a bit more concerning. Apparently, a flexible coupling along the driveshaft can crack and sheer, potentially leading to a loss of power while driving, or worse, a vehicle roll-away if parked without the parking brake engaged. In addition, the severed driveshaft could potentially damage brake and fuel lines in the surrounding area. The recall is widespread across the Transit lineup and includes the cargo and passenger Transit with the medium, long, and extended wheelbases. The medium-wheelbase chassis cab Transit is included, too. In total, 402,462 North American Transits are under the recall, with 370,630 in the U.S., 26,254 in Canada, 3,217 in Mexico, and 2,361 in U.S. Territories.

Ford says the affected Transits were built between January 17, 2014 and June 15, 2017, equating to the 2015 through 2017 model-year vans.

Interestingly enough, Ford says the flexible coupling isn’t likely to fail before 30,000 miles. What’s more, a permanent solution to the deteriorating part hasn’t been found, so Ford will continually replace the coupling on every Transit every 30,000 miles. So Transits with less than 30,000 miles are fine until hitting the magic number. After that, the coupling will be replaced every 30,000 miles, or until Ford finds a longer-lasting solution. It’s not a pretty solution, but you’ve got to applaud Ford for going the extra step.

As with any recall, the seat anchors, knee airbags, and driveshaft couplings will be fixed at no cost to the owners. Ford dealerships will be contacting the owners of these affected vehicles to schedule a service date. Customers can also input their VIN into the NHTSA’s online database of vehicle recalls.

I reached out to Ford about these recalls, specifically regarding how problems can be traced to individual vehicles, but have not received a response. I’ll bring an update if that changes.

Press Release

DEARBORN, Mich., June 28, 2017 – Ford Motor Company is issuing one safety recall and two safety compliance recalls in North America. Details are as follows:
2015-17 Ford Transit van/bus vehicles
Ford is issuing a safety recall for approximately 400,000 2015-17 Ford Transit van/bus vehicles with medium, long and extended wheelbases and chassis cab/cutaways with medium wheelbases to replace the driveshaft flexible coupling.
In the affected vehicles, continuing to operate a vehicle with a cracked flexible coupling may cause separation of the driveshaft, resulting in a loss of motive power while driving or unintended vehicle movement in park without the parking brake applied. In addition, separation of the driveshaft from the transmission can result in secondary damage to surrounding components, including brake and fuel lines. A driveshaft separation may increase the risk of injury or crash.
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with this issue.
Affected vehicles include 2015-17 Ford Transit vehicles built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Jan. 17, 2014 to June 15, 2017.
The recall involves approximately 402,462 vehicles in North America (370,630 in the U.S., 2,361 in federalized territories, 3,217 in Mexico and 26,254 in Canada). The Ford reference number for this recall is 17S15.
Based on the field data, Ford does not expect the current flexible couplings to deteriorate sufficiently to result in driveline separation in vehicles with less than 30,000 miles. Hence, for affected vehicles with under 30,000 miles or vehicles that have had a driveshaft or driveshaft flexible coupling replaced within the last 30,000 miles, no alteration or interim repair is required until the vehicle or replaced flexible coupling reaches 30,000 miles. At that point, the customer should schedule an appointment with their dealer for the interim repair to be performed.
For affected vehicles with more than 30,000 miles, the interim repair will consist of replacing the driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles until the final repair is available and completed. Owners will be notified by mail and instructed to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to have the flexible coupling replaced immediately at no cost. When the permanent repair is available, owners will be notified that they may schedule an appointment with their dealer to have either a redesigned flexible coupling with a modified driveshaft bracket and shield or a revised driveshaft equipped with a universal joint installed at no cost.
2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles
Ford is issuing a safety compliance recall for four Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in the U.S. to repair second row seat attachment studs.
In the affected vehicles, seats with missing inboard attachments may not adequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with this issue.
Affected vehicles include 2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles built at Chicago Assembly Plant, Jan. 20, 2017.
The recall involves approximately four vehicles in the U.S. The Ford reference number for this recall is 17C10.
Dealers are contacting owners to schedule service appointments to inspect for the presence of the second row seat attachment studs and repair as required.
2016 Ford Escape vehicles
Ford is issuing a safety compliance recall for three Ford Escape vehicles in the U.S. to replace driver knee airbag modules.
In the affected vehicles, in the event of a driver knee airbag deployment, the airbag cushion may not inflate as intended due to the lack of inflator gas generant material. Incomplete airbag fill during a commanded deployment may increase the risk of injury to the driver in a crash.
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with this issue.
Affected vehicles include 2016 Ford Escape vehicles built at Louisville Assembly Plant, Dec. 18, 2015. The Ford reference number for this recall is 17C11.
The three associated Ford dealerships are in the process of contacting the three vehicle owners to schedule service appointments to have their driver knee airbag replaced at no cost.

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