Deliveries of the redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are being hampered by extensive quality control problems which have forced the company to divert thousands of vehicles to secondary facilities for inspection and repair.
Ford's corporate office will not comment on the nature of the problems plaguing both cars, but insiders at the company's assembly plants described problems ranging from non-functioning air conditioning systems to transmissions that will not shift properly, according to an extensive report from the Detroit Free Press.
It's not unusual for a handful of cars to fail standard quality control checks, often for minor issues like mismatched trim pieces or wheels, or missing (or incorrect) badges, but what Ford employees are describing is a vehicle repair queue numbering in the thousands. The repairs are holding up deliveries of both the Aviator and Explorer from the Chicago facility where they are manufactured.
“From what I’ve seen on what they call ‘money cars,’ or cars which are done, I would say they’re currently getting maybe 80 to 100 cars (per shift) finished. Still, with somewhere north of 12,000 cars needing repairs, doing the math, you can see this is a huge project and a huge expense for Ford,” an employee at Ford's Flat Rock Assembly facility in Michigan told the Detroit Free Press. According to the same employee, Ford has even outsourced some of the repair work to Roush, one of the better-known tuning companies affiliated with Ford.
In addition to the aforementioned transmission and air conditioning issues, employees also said some Explorers are having their chassis X-rayed to check for defects, and some Aviators are arriving with failed adaptive suspensions. Ford's plant employees say a quality control issue of this magnitude is "highly unusual."
With Ford scrambling to triage repairs of both vehicles, another problem has started creeping up: mileage. Brand-new vehicles rolling off the Flat Rock assembly line will often have up to 10 pre-delivery miles on their odometers; some Explorers and Aviators are racking up hundreds before they're trucked off to dealers due to the logistics involved in getting them repaired and validated.
Thousands of Explorers and Aviators reportedly remain on delivery hold and Flat Rock has added extra shifts to help with repair and re-assembly.
Contrary to what sources said, a Ford spokeswoman told the Free Press the repairs were not unusual.