Ford Motor Company has been hit by a number of class actions lately about allegedly false fuel economy ratings for some of its vehicles. This class action is not about that. The complaint alleges that Ford Explorers have defective aluminum hoods that prematurely corrode or experience bubbling and damage to the paint on them.
Ford often touts the toughness of its vehicles, as in the slogan, “Built Ford Tough.” Its brochure for the 2011 Ford Explorer announced a change in the model: “Capability: Explorer has a body/frame that’s lighter yet stronger than before.” Its 2014 and 2015 models were advertised with the line, “Capability: A strong structure with advanced materials and technology serves as the foundation for impressive on- and off-road capability.
However, the complaint says, Ford’s “decision to move to a lighter vehicle frame has come at a significant price for Explorer owners.”
Ford began using aluminum in its vehicles around the year 2000. Expeditions got aluminum panels around that year, Explorers in around 2002, and Mustangs around 2005. As part of this process, heavier steel hoods were replaced with aluminum ones. This reduced vehicle weight and provided greater fuel efficiency figures.
Unfortunately, the complaint says, the aluminum hoods corrode too quickly, causing the paint on them to bubble, peel, or blister. The complaint claims that Ford has been aware of this since around 2004, when its Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) for vehicle servicers began mentioning the problem.
For example, a December 2004 TSB speaks of “a bubbling or blistering under the paint on aluminum body parts.” It said that Ford’s testing “has revealed that the aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body part, prior to it being painted.”
Only with a 2017 TSB were technicians finally told to replace the panels. However, the problem itself has not been resolved.
The complaint claims that online consumer complaints have reported the issue. In fact, the number one problem reported on 2012 Ford Explorers by CarComplaints.com was “rust bubbles on hood.” The number two complaint was “cracked paint on hood.”
While Ford eventually provided two-year extended coverage for body panel corrosion, the details state that it “only applies if a body sheet metal panel becomes perforated due to corrosion during normal use…” However, the complaint claims that “it is impossible for aluminum body panels to perforate…”
Ford now covers corrosion or rust damage repairs for only five years and denies claims for its 2015 and earlier models. Ford’s PremiumCARE extended service plans specifically exclude such damage.
The class for this action is all persons in the US and its territories who, within the statute of limitations, as shown by Ford’s records, bought or leased a new or used Ford Explorer. There are also two subclasses, a PremiumCARE Subclass and a Tennessee Subclass.