© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 2020 Ford Explorer cars are seen at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. auto safety regulators said on Saturday they are investigating Ford Motor (NYSE:)’s prior recalls of 710,000 Explorer SUVs over power loss reports to determine if the fix is adequate.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted the No. 2 U.S. automaker issued recalls in April 2022 and March on Ford Explorer SUVs from the 2020-2022 model years to address a rear axle horizontal mounting bolt that may fracture and cause the driveshaft to disconnect.

Ford said earlier its recalls were to address a disconnected driveshaft that could result in the vehicle rolling away placed in ‘Park’ without the parking brake applied, increasing the risk of a crash.

Ford did not immediately comment Saturday but said in March it was not aware of any crashes or injuries tied to the recall issue.

Ford’s fix is to add a software update that automatically applies the electronic service parking brake to keep the vehicle from rolling away, the agency said, adding there is no remedy to address the failed rear axle horizontal mounting bolt “which is the basis of this safety issue and the cause of the impaired vehicle.”

NHTSA said it has received two complaints alleging a loss of power or transmission torque of the rear wheels in Explorer vehicles that had received the recall fix.

One complaint told NHTSA that after getting the software update “the vehicle would randomly slam to a complete stop while driving. It happened several times with three different drivers (myself, my wife, and my son), each happening at 30-35 mph or less.”

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