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Ford SUV Rollovers

Ford Explorer Rollovers

One out of four new vehicles sold in the U.S. is an SUV, making it the most popular type of vehicle in America. The Ford Explorer is the most popular SUV in the world. However, a Ford Explorer is 16 times as likely as the typical family car to kill occupants of another vehicle in a crash.

Ford Explorers and Tire Defects

The Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle (SUV) and its safety first became a topic of discussion in 2000 when a rash of rollovers caused by tire failures was spotlighted by the national media. Over 200 deaths and 700 injuries were blamed on Ford Explorer rollovers in the United States. In many of these cases, defective tires, particularly tire separation, was a contributing factor in the rollover.

The Ford Explorer was introduced to the market in 1990 to replace the Bronco II, which had a long-history of rollover injuries and deaths due to its narrow wheel base and top heavy design. However, within 10 years, the company and its tire manufacturer, Firestone, received numerous reports of rollover accidents caused by tire failures. The Washington Post reported that the Ford Explorer had a higher rate of tire-related accidents than other sport utility vehicles. The report showed that in 25,000 SUV accidents, Explorers were involved in more than twice the number that their competitors were involved in. The Ford Explorer is three or four times more likely to be involved in an accident due to tire blowout than other SUVs.

At first, Firestone took some of the blame for the increase in rollovers, as tire separation on Ford Explorers occurred over and over again. Evidence, however proved that the Ford Explorer's instability was an equal culprit in the rollovers caused by the failure and tire separation. Internal documents by Ford revealed in subsequent lawsuits show that the company's engineers recommended changes to the vehicle's design after failing several company rollover tests. Ford, however, only made a few minor changes and went ahead with production.

After nearly 10 years of blaming each other, Firestone recalled the defective tires used on Ford Explorers and split their partnership with Ford in 2001. Many lawsuits are still in progress regarding this particular defect.

"It takes a Ford Explorer to come crashing through that door to say 'listen, there's public safety at stake here,'" says Rep. Billy Tauzin, (R) LA, whose House Commerce Committee investigated the Firestone tire situation.

Ford E-350 Van Rollovers

After a Ford E-350 van accident, the families (of the victims) discovered how dangerous these vans were and that vans were going to continue to kill innocent victims. On behalf of the 10 victims that were riding in the van, the families decided to sue Ford because of the inherent defects in the Ford E-350 van. After only two days of trial, Ford agreed to settle the case to the satisfaction of the families involved.

During a trial, the families of the victims heard clearly that Ford would never issue a recall of the E-350 on its own. Ford, GM, and Dodge have no intention of ever fixing the existing 500,000 15-passenger vans on the road today. It is much cheaper for Ford to settle lawsuits than to do a recall of existing vans.

Ford Escape Rollovers

The Ford Explorer was the replacement for its predecessor, the Bronco II. As an alternative to the larger Explorer, the Ford Escape was designed to entice a younger crowd into buying a Ford SUV. The Escape is smaller than the Explorer and doesn't come with as large a price tag.

The Ford Escape has been the focus of many recalls, including:

  • Seat belt buckle covers that may not latch correctly
  • Faulty O-rings that posed a potential fire hazard
  • Issues with steering control
  • Stuck throttles
  • Incorrect 4x4 hubs that could cause the loss of stability of the vehicle

Alongside the Ford Explorer, the Ford Escape also has a roof that does not compare to those that are being manufactured by European auto manufacturers. The risk of serious spinal or brain injury or death is increased by the vehicle's weak roof design.

Ford F-150 Rollovers

Poorly designed roofs, unsafe door latches and an abnormally high rate of ejections in rollovers have plagued the Ford F-150. Ford Motor Co. has settled many lawsuits in regards to the strength of the roof of its F-Series SuperCab pickup.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS, gave the Ford F-150 its lowest rating in crash testing. In the IIHS crash tests, a barrier is set up to the left of the hood. This is called an offset test. An offset test is used to determine a vehicle's structural strength.

Brian O'Neil, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said "the F-150 exhibited major collapse of the occupant compartment in the offset test." This results in a collapse and the test dummy's movement was not well controlled. The test's results showed serious injury to the head and neck of the test dummy. The airbag also deployed late, which increased the amount of damage to the dummy.

"This is as bad as it gets in terms of crash performance," O'Neill commented. When asked what he (Mr. O'Neil) would do if he owned a Ford F-150 O'Neill replied, "I'd get rid of it, I wouldn't put my family in a vehicle like this."

A total of 134 people were fatally ejected from F-Series SuperCabs from 1998 to 2001, according to a Ford internal document introduced at a trial.

Although the Ford F-150 was designed for driving off-road, the truck is not prepared to do so. The lack of a roll bar, cage and proper roof support poses potential roof crush harm to passengers in the case of a rollover.

Even worse yet, the four-door F-150 does not have a B-pillar between the doors on each side of the truck. In a rollover, roof crush can then put extra pressure on the area between the A-pillars and C-Pillars, causing the door latches to malfunction. This could easily result in driver passenger ejection. In vehicle rollovers, passenger ejection is the #1 cause of death.

As part of its defense in a lawsuit, Ford Motor Co. hired an outside firm to do a 45 mph dolly rollover test on an F-150 SuperCab. The truck suffered severe damage to the roof. The test showed the doors flying open and dummies being partially ejected. The plaintiff's lawyers used Ford's own tests to convince a jury that the crushed roof helped cause the fatal ejection of the truck's passengers. The jury awarded their survivors $225 million.

Ford Ranger Rollovers

In the NHTSA's Pickup Truck Crash and Rollover Test for 2005 vehicles, the NHTSA gave its lowest rollover rating to the Ford Ranger 4x4 and its corporate twin, the Mazda B-Series 4x4.

Since the Ford Ranger's inception, it has been the centerpiece in lawsuits in regards to its propensity for rollover due to the truck's high center of gravity, poor steering and handling, seat belt issues, weak roof pillars, weak roof supports and high chance of roof crush.

Built to replace the Ford Courier pickup, which was manufactured by Mazda, the Ford Ranger has been plagued with design flaws and resulting lawsuits for 20 years. The suspension system in the Ford Ranger, the Twin I-Beam and Twin Traction Beam, has been the focus of many rollover lawsuits. These suspensions increase the height of the vehicle during evasive maneuvers, contributing to greater chances for rollovers.

The weak roof supports and pillars have also been noted as unsafe. Roof crush during a rollover in the Ford Ranger can lead to spinal and brain injuries. The roof design of the Ford Ranger has been tested, and the results show that Ford did not build the roof of the Ford Ranger to withstand the force of a rollover.

"In rollover tests, the Ford Ranger and the Mazda B-Series are the worst pickups with four-wheel drive. The trucks received two out of five stars and had a 30.6 percent chance of rollover, according to NHTSA."

Excessive slack of seat belts has also been a major cause of injuries caused by the Ford Ranger. In 1979, the NHTSA proposed to band the seat belt design which Ford used for the Ford Ranger. Eventually Ford agreed to limit the amount of slack in the Ranger's seat belts, but chose to post warnings instead of fixing the engineering design. Newer trucks do not include this same design; however the middle seating belt in the cab of the Ford Ranger has been known to allow enough movement in an impact to allow severe whipping motions during an impact.

Contact Us

We know that the only way to force real change in auto industry safety standards and accountability is to hit negligent manufacturers hard and often. To learn more about your rights and legal options in seeking maximum financial recovery after a serious or fatal rollover and roof crush accident, please call our Dallas office at 214.987.0005 to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced trial lawyer.


We offer free initial consultations to potential clients nationwide. If you are calling from outside the DFW Metroplex, please use our toll-free line at 888.987.0005 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment.