This article was written by Brian Jones, ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Automotive Contributor
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Problems with the Exterior Lighting
Traveling with the family at night requires the use of quality lighting systems, but this is a major point of contention with current owners.
Read this NHTSA review. “Factory OEM headlights including hi-beams, low-beams, DRLs and fog lights are outdated and totally inferior to current LED/HID headlights. Visibility is not up to par whatsoever. Definite safety hazard. Very disappointed. This car should have standard LED daylight running strips, high-beams, low beams and fog lights.”
Ford hasn’t issued any communications related to the lighting systems. Instead, the automaker hopes that the Expedition has enough lighting to “stand out.” However, it seems that the only reason people are taking notice of this large SUV is that no one can see it at night.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Ford Expedition Headlight Problems:
PROJECTOR HALOGEN HEADLIGHTS ARE UNSAFE AND DANGEROUS, UNABLE TO SEE ADEQUATELY AT NIGHT. LIGHT OUTPUT IS EXTREMELY POOR, LIGHTING COLOR IS VERY YELLOW AND BEAM PROJECTION IS NOT FAR ENOUGH TO SEE AT ANY SPEED ABOVE 40MPH. UNABLE TO PROPERLY SEE STREET SIGNS OR OBJECTS ON EITHER SIDE OF VEHICLE THAT MAY CROSS IN PATH. TESTED MULTIPLE TIMES WITH ALL HEADLIGHTS ON INCLUDING LOWER FOG DRIVING LIGHTS. CHECKED ADJUSTMENT(DIRECTION) AND HEIGHT AND DID NOT IMPROVE VISIBILITY. WIFE IS AFRAID TO DRIVE AT NIGHT, LOSE OF USE OF VEHICLE AT NIGHT DUE TO UNSAFE DRIVING CONDITIONS.
Problems with the Transmission
With the weight of the Expedition and the hauling capacity, the powertrain needs to be potent enough to handle what comes ahead.
Here’s another NHTSA complaint. “My wife and I were making a left turn at an intersection when the vehicle stalled in the intersection while making the turn. An alert appeared on the dashboard ‘anti-collision alert’ flashed on the dash and disappeared. Then another message appeared ‘drive mode not available.’ An orange wrench indicator light lit at the bottom of dashboard next to the odometer. The vehicle was not shifting correctly and as we drove further, the car shifted through the gears slowly and slowly and gradually. We drove the vehicle straight to the [dealership]. We dropped the vehicle off at the dealership. The dealership service department called me the next day and said they could not find anything wrong with the vehicle. I had described what happened to us, but they said nothing was recorded in the vehicle diagnostic system or black box. We have had the vehicle at the dealership for over 3 weeks now and they have had their mechanic driving the vehicle and said they are unable to replicate the issue. We do not feel safe in the vehicle now. We are not sure what to do now as the dealership says it is not eligible under the lemon law for a buyback.”
Ford does acknowledge some powertrain concerns. Service Bulletin #SSM 48082 talks about a grinding noise that occurs when driving the 4WD Expedition in 2WD. It’s possible that the problem is turbo related, requiring a replacement. In the communications, Ford isn’t exactly sure what the case is, but is working to investigate it further. While owners wait to hear what the fix is, they get to enjoy some new sound effects while driving.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Ford Expedition Transmission Problems:
2019 EXPEDITION 10 SPEED TRANSMISSION LOCKED UP AFTER 2 HOURS OF “FREE WHEELING” BEHIND MY MOTORHOME. WHILE APPROACHING (NO TURNING YET) TO PARKING AREA ABOUT 3 TO 5 MPH SUDDENLY CAR JUST LOCKED REAR WHEELS UP. WHEN CAR WAS STARTED UP THERE WERE GRINDING SOUND COMING OUT OF TRANSMISSION. SINCE UNABLE TO UNLOCK OR “FREE” THE TRANSMISSION CAR WAS SENT TO LOCAL DEALERSHIP MORE THAN 400 MILES FROM HOME. FORD DEALER INSTALLED A NEW 10-SPEED TRANSMISSION.
Problems with the Seats
Everyone takes the seats in a vehicle for granted, just assuming that they are safe. However, the Expedition suffers from some massive failures that bring the seats to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Read this NHTSA complaint. Child in a car seat in second row captain’s chair. Child was able to hit button that collapses seat forward – all while the car was moving (on a highway at 65 mph) and child was in car seat in seat. This is extremely dangerous… People buy large vehicles like Expeditions mainly because of use with children. As soon as that button is hit, the seat collapses and the car seat belt places enormous pressure on a child. I would hate to imagine what would happen if the seat was released and a car accident occurred at the same time. I have already contacted Ford to make a complaint but wanted to raise the issue here as well. Please investigate. I contacted my dealership and they confirmed the same thing happening in an Expedition model still on the lot. This is not a single car issue. Every 2019 Expedition with a captain’s chair is likely to have the same issue.”
Aside from this dangerous event, there is a recall that affects over 639,000 vehicles. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V633000 states that the vehicle might have rear outboard seats with a defective recliner mechanism needed for back strength. Without this, occupants might not be restrained during an accident. Considering that the Expedition is considered a massive people hauler, it should have been equipped with better seating. With this in mind, maybe the tagline should be changed to – built to cause injuries.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Ford Expedition Seats Problems:
VEHICLE WAS BOUGHT NEW FROM A DEALERSHIP MID DECEMBER, DUE TO SECOND SET OF TWINS DUE MID MARCH. ATTEMPTED TO HAVE GRACO 4EVER CHILD CAR SEATS INSTALLED BY SAFE KIDS (ORGANIZATION TO KEEP KIDS SAFE) BUT INSPECTION FAILED DUE TO 3RD ROW SEATING HEADREST ENGINEERING DESIGN MAJOR DEFECT. 3RD ROW ELECTRIC FOLD DOWN SEATS DO NOT ALLOW FOR HEADREST REMOVAL EXCEPT FOR THE MIDDLE SEAT LEAVING EXCESSIVE SPACE BETWEEN SEAT AND BACK OF FORWARD FACING CAR SEAT MAKING IT UNSAFE AS THERE IS NO CONTACT BETWEEN SEAT AND CAR SEAT. CORPORATE FORD WAS CONTACTED BY PHONE 5X REGARDING THIS ISSUE AND THEY ARE UNABLE TO HELP IN THIS SITUATION AS SEATS ARE “FUNCTIONING NORMALLY” PER MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS. WITH LESS THAN 3 WKS BEFORE THE DUE DATE APPROACHING, WE SCRAMBLED AND BROUGHT THE VEHICLE TO THE LOCAL DEALERSHIP IN WHICH THEY INDICATED IT IS ILLEGAL FOR AN ADULT TO RIDE IN A VEHICLE WITHOUT A HEADREST AND THEY WERE SHOCKED IN THE POOR DESIGN. FORD NEEDS THEIR ENGINEERING TEAM TO IMMEDIATELY RESOLVE THIS ISSUE, AS ANOTHER COMPLAINT WAS FILED WITH NHTSA IN JANUARY REGARDING THIS SAME ISSUE. THEY NEED TO COVER THE COST TO HAVE DEALERSHIP REMOVE THE HEADRESTS MANUALLY ($600 ESTIMATE) BY TEARING APART THE SEATS OR HAVE A LIST OF FORWARD FACING CAR SEATS THAT ACTUALLY WORK FOR THE 3RD ROW IN WHICH THE COST TO US WOULD PROBABLY BE A WASH FOR NEW SEATS IF THERE ARE ANY THAT WORK FOR IT! THIS IS NOT A FAMILY VEHICLE FOR ANYONE STILL IN CAR SEATS OR BOOSTERS AND THERE IS NO WAY I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED THIS VEHICLE KNOWING THIS AHEAD OF TIME BY READING A PREVIOUS COMPLAINT ON THE MATTER. $80K VEHICLE THAT SEATS A FAMILY OF 5 WITH TODDLERS NOT 6 OR GREATER.
Problems with the Suspension
One last system worth looking into is the suspension. When something malfunctions between the steering and suspension, the ride becomes anything but enjoyable.
That’s what’s illustrated in this Edmunds review. “When we make a left turn onto a straight road it keeps pulling left until we make a right turn which then cancels the left turn and then it drives straight. This condition is worse when towing our 6000 lb. trailer but still noticeable when towing nothing. This does not happen on right turns, only left. Ford has spend days testing and checking everything (mechanical and electrical) and cannot find the cause. I fear it is a design problem. In any case it is very unsafe.”
There is another recall on the Expedition, this time related to the suspension system. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V773000 states that some vehicles might have a rear suspension toe link fastener that wasn’t tightened correctly to the frame. If it separates from the frame, there could be a sudden loss of vehicle handling, leading to a potential accident. For a company that boasts about how well built this SUV is, they surely missed a lot of key factors, such as seats and steering ability. It’s not safe for any family to take their next expedition in this Ford SUV.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Ford Expedition Suspension Problems:
AFTER A LEFT TURN THE VEHICLE CONTINUES TO PULL LEFT (MEASURED AT ABOUT 4 POUNDS OF FORCE ON THE STEERING WHEEL TO HOLD STRAIGHT) UNTIL A RIGHT TURN IS MADE TO CANCEL THE LEFT PULL THEN IT TRACKS STRAIGHT. THERE WERE SIMILAR RESULTS ON RIGHT TURNS BUT WORSE ON LEFTS.
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