Ford Authority

Ford Explorer Trim Panel Issue Spurs NHTSA Investigation

Just last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closed its investigation into select 2011-2017 Ford Explorer models that were experiencing exhaust leaks, closing the book on a long-running saga that originally prompted that query back in 2016. The agency failed to find any wrongdoing on Ford’s part, a key discovery after the automaker faced multiple lawsuits over the issue. However, it seems as if the Ford Explorer isn’t totally in the clear in regards to another potential problem, as the NHTSA has now opened an investigation into 2011-2019 models experiencing an issue with the windshield trim panel.

On affected vehicles, that particular trim panel can detach while the vehicle is moving at highway speeds, which could in turn strike the windshield or another vehicle following behind it. The NHTSA estimates that 1,864,480 Ford Explorer models are potentially affected by this problem, and has received 164 complaints thus far. However, it is worth noting that the agency is not aware of any crashes or injuries that have happened as a direct result.

At the same time, the 164 complaints filed with the NHTSA all resulted from the windshield trim panel becoming detached while those vehicles were traveling at highway speeds. Some of the complaints reported that the drivers of the vehicles following behind the problematic Explorers were allegedly and understandably startled when the trim piece hit the windshield, and momentarily lost control of their vehicle.

As a result, the NHTSA deemed this trim panel issue a big enough problem to open an investigation into the matter, which could potentially lead to a recall later on down the road. For now, however, it seems as if owners of 2011-2019 Ford Explorer models may want to check their windshield trim to ensure that it’s securely attached.

We’ll have more on the Explorer soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Explorer news and ongoing Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Tim

    Wondering if those had their windshield replaced. If the panel has clips then they could of been broken during replacement of the panel. That is if it’s the cowl panel.

  2. Richard Rassh

    Mine is oem and made noises since new. By the time i found out there was a tsb i was out of warranty. It will fly off one day prolly into a school bus. NHTSA needs to issue recall

    1. RWFA

      School bus? Just to play it safe, best not to drive within 20 miles of any airport.

  3. RonArb

    So, .0088 % of Explorers from 2011 to 2019 had issues with windshield trim work falling off. Point was made above, thanks Tim, that replacement windshields may have been involved. If so, and the NHTSA investigation should be able to establish this question, was a replacement windshield used and replaced incorrectly ? Hard to believe that such a low percentage of vehicles effected would draw a national investigation.

    1. T.C. Waltz

      Do you work for Ford? Almost everyone I know who has had that year model has had issues, especially with the passenger side. I’m about to replace the Passenger side for the 3rd time. I’ve also seen plenty of explorers (especially 2015’s) running around with them gone. The one on ours has cracked at the bottom and actually removed all the paint on the quarter panel where its rubbed. Everyone knows those are junk (even my back ones have cracked and been replaced), the door panel foams peel from the heat and the aluminum hoods all seem to have “rust” on the front edge with bubbled paint. Everyone item is a manufacturing defect and only 1 of those items will they cover. The design of the trims is stupid.

  4. Gary

    I don’t understand why Ford is having more quality problems and production problems than any other auto maker. Makes me wonder that maybe the top executives need to be replaced with people who know what they are doing. As a long time Ford buyer It’s very disappointing and when I am ready for my next vehicle in a few years it may not be a Ford product.

  5. Jay Meurer

    Lost the L.H. windshield trim on my 2015 Limited. I just payed about $180.00 to have it replaced. I didn’t report it to NHTSA. Kinda makes you wonder how many other people did the same thing I did.

    1. Jennifer

      Mine cost over 1,200.00 at ford dealership

  6. Mike Harris

    I had this happen MULTIPLE times on my 2014 XLT… The windshield trim panel is one time use and must be replaced at windshield replacement. The OEM one flew off on the highway at 80Mph… and then the subsequent 2 replacements when windshield is replaced also flew off… Bad design on it… The aftermarket and OEM ones DO NOT STAY ON!!! They do not fit correctly, its the passenger windshield trim going up the A piller.

  7. Tracy

    I have 2015 XLT the plastic windshield trim broke off while I driving down the highway. At the time I didn’t know what it was thought it was debris on the road two hours later when I arrived at my parents I saw the piece was missing. In the last month I have seen at least 5 other Explorers in my town with them missing too.
    The “rubber” trim inside the doors are all loose and falling off also and don’t get me started on the bubbly “rust” all along the hood of the car too!

  8. Jennifer

    Had to replace mine twice!!! Then next time it I am not replacing it! It was extremely expensive. Let’s talk about the door trim. Let’s put that back on the recall list


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