Ford Explorer Rollovers
In some people’s opinions, Ford Explorer history is just a giant rollover waiting to happen because of what we hear about their products. When Ford first introduced the Explorer, it became a vehicle many people loved instantly: It could be used as a family car with the image of a truck for people who enjoyed the look. But with this comes a problem – it was still a big, tall truck, and could be prone to rolling over more easily than your typical passenger car.
There are various product liability claims that many people make when going forth with a lawsuit against a defective car or SUV. One product liability claim in specific is against vehicles that have an unreasonably dangerous design. This category involves vehicles or parts that have an unreasonably dangerous design that results in injury or other damages, even though they were properly manufactured in most cases. Sometimes, in these cases, the vehicles have been on the market for some time before there is a discovery made that they are actually dangerous.
Some say that the problem with the design and cause for rollover in the Ford Explorers was that their original design included a decision to build a sport utility onto the frame of a pickup truck instead of all in one piece like your typical car. Ford was also under a lot of pressure to compete with General Motors’ (GM) new SUV (the Blazer) and also the new Jeeps.
The rollover issue wasn’t much of an issue at all until the late 1980s, when the Bronco II obtained a rollover record as well. The Bronco had a design that was based on the Ranger pickup style and it is said that Ford did not learn easily from their design mistakes. The Ranger’s under body ended up also being used for the Explorer, which gave the Ford the image it wanted with the budget it was striving for.
However, while it looked roomy, its design ultimately limited the weight it was able to safely carry. And with a suspension that couldn’t carry a bigger load? A large family could certainly end up posing a risk. With the suspension that Ford installed in 1995 and later model Explorers, Ford engineers explained that the center of gravity of top-heavy vehicles could have been lowered if automakers would have considered just lowering the engine height. However, the company decided to go against these wishes and retain the original engine position to hold down the redesign costs and preserve profit margins of nearly 40%.
Here are some facts about the rollover stats on SUVs and safety:
- There was a 10-year period in which Ford-Firestone related rollovers caused some 300 deaths.
- A Ford Explorer is 16 times as likely as the typical family car to kill the occupants of another vehicle in a crash.
- 1 out of 4 new vehicles sold in the United States is an SUV, which makes it the most popular type of vehicle in America. The Ford Explorer itself is the most popular SUV in the world.
How can the risk of rollover be reduced?
The NHTSA says that there are many precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of rollover in vehicles of any kind. Avoid conditions that could lead to a loss of vehicle control like driving under the influence of drugs and speeding. Be careful on rural roads. Avoid extreme panic-like steering. Maintain tires properly and replace them when necessary. And lastly – load vehicles properly. When vehicles are loaded down with additional weight, SUVs can become much less stable. They have a higher center of gravity and the extra weight can make the vehicle tip more easily. If all these cautions are regarded, you may reduce the risk of a rollover.
The Ford Explorer is actually not more rollover-prone than the dozens of other SUVs available on the market. According to released federal data and safety ratings for this SUV, the four-door’s rollover record is actually quite typical of most SUVs. As far as things are concerned, Ford Company changed the design of the Explorer to avoid rollovers. The 2002 four-door Explorer model was lowered after incidents were reported, and its wheelbase was widened by two inches. The Explorer lost market shares from its rollover scandal but remains to be the best-selling SUV in the world.
Where did Firestone Tires come into play with this suit?
When a recall happened regarding Firestone tires, Ford maintained that the tires actually caused the rollovers and not the vehicle design. However, even after the recall and replacement of tires in 2000 and 2001, pre-2002 Ford Explorers continued to have fatal rollovers at a greater rate than those of rivals. It was too hard to blame the tires when the accidents kept happening even after the tires were replaced.
At this point in time, however, it should be recognized that there are fewer and fewer of the 4 million-plus pre-2002 Explorers still on the road. Many have been retired and placed with newer vehicles, although those still on the road can pose serious problems. They are older now with suspension problems in most cases and will most likely have cheaper tires on them. This could end up posing more risks.
Over a very long time span, Ford faced wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits across the country stemming from the rollover accidents in earlier models. Their settlement reached a fair agreement that was reasonable and within the best interest of their customers, according to them. The settlement applied to Explorers in model years 1991 through 2001 and was to be filed in Sacramento County Superior Court. It allowed vehicle owners to apply for $500 vouchers that would be used toward the purchase of new Explorers or $300 vouchers for other Ford or Lincoln Mercury products.
If you were involved in an accident and you believe that a defective motor vehicle issue was at fault, you may have yourself a claim. Furthermore, it is beneficial to exercise caution if you own one of these Ford Explorer models and could possibly face a rollover accident.
Maggiano, DiGrolamo & Lizzi P.C. Personal Injury Law Firm can help you with your claim, contact us 201-585-9111 or fill out our online contact form, we have the most knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated team of Trial Lawyers. Schedule an appointment and see why we are the Top Rated Personal Injury Lawyers in New Jersey.