Home » Ford Recalled The Transit Trail And The Fix Is Taking The Trail Part Out

Ford Recalled The Transit Trail And The Fix Is Taking The Trail Part Out

Ford Transit Trail Tire Rub 2ts
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Back in late 2022, Ford capitalized on the movement of DIY camper van builds with the release of the Transit Trail. The van is supposed to take care of most of the hard work from the lift kit and knobby tires to all-wheel-drive, a roof fan, and basic wiring. As it turns out, some of those goodies aren’t working out so well. Ford has issued a recall because the tires can rub on the van’s body. The fix is disappointing, as are the issues owners are reporting.

This is a pretty big deal because the Ford Transit Trail is marketed as the roomy van to make RV conversions easier for DIYers and RV manufacturers alike. The pandemic changed the RV landscape as more Americans began hitting the road in camper vans rather than gigantic Class A motorhomes. At the same time, the vanlife movement also took off, with more adventurous Americans looking to build their own little homes on wheels.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The Ford Transit Trail was designed to cater to those who want to craft their own van and sleep by a secluded lake. There’s a lot involved in building your own camper van. If you start with a plain work van, you have to bust out cutting tools to slice a hole in your roof to fit an air-conditioner or roof fan. If you want that van to go off-road, now you have to handle the lift kit, tires, and underbody protection. Oh, and you better hope you didn’t choose a rear-wheel-drive van because now you have to convert that to 4×4, too.

That’s where the Transit Trail comes in. The Ford Pro division, through its third-party upfitters, takes AWD Transits, gives them a lift, all-terrain tires, and sets up a basic electrical system including a second 12V battery so builders have fewer headaches. If you’re afraid of cutting a hole into your $65,000 van, I get it. So, Ford Pro’s upfitter can do it for you and fill the hole with a Maxxfan RV ceiling fan. Here are a few paragraphs from when I got to see the Transit Trail in person:

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The Transit Trail comes equipped with bespoke 16-inch alloy wheels painted in black. These are the same wheels as found on the UK version, but now we know more about them. These wheels are wider and with a different offset than regular Transit wheels, resulting in a 2.75-inch-wider track over a base Transit. Those wheels are wrapped in 30.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse all-terrain tires. Ford says that these tires have a 2.5-inch larger diameter than standard Transit tires.

This tire package is combined with a 2.25-inch suspension lift. Ford says that its engineers didn’t just lift it and call it a day, but the Transit’s unibody was reinforced in certain areas to deal with the lift. The Transit Trail also gains a new steering column to help maintain geometry. And further changes were made to the sheet metal to accommodate the changes to the steering. Ford’s goal was to lift the Transit without doing anything that would wear out driveline components faster than they normally would.

All of this adds to 6.7 inches of ground clearance at the Transit Trail’s lowest point. Approach angle is 19.5 degrees, Departure 25.3, and breakover 19.3. These wouldn’t be amazing numbers for a 4×4 SUV, but remember, this is the kind of van that your plumber would normally drive.

We’ve already seen some cool Transit Trail-based builds, including the Thor Motor Coach Talavera:

In March, Ford issued a recall on select Transit Trail vans. According to the recall, the off-road tires installed onto the Transit Trail may make contact with the van’s body:

Due to insufficient packaging allowance, the front tires may contact the front wheel arch liner and body flange under certain vehicle loading, steering angle, and braking conditions. Repeated contact of a front tire with the wheel arch liner and body flange may lead to rapid air loss and tread-belt separation, which can result in a loss of vehicle control and increase the risk of a crash.

Ford Engineering demonstrated that the shoulder area of the front tires can contact the wheel arch liners at 60% of full turn while braking, when the vehicle is loaded at or near the vehicle’s Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (FGAWR).

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Thankfully, no incidents have been tied to this issue, but the recall notice notes that seven VINs have been recorded to have tire rubbing problems. Likewise, a root cause has not been established. First discovered by the Drive is the remedy. Ford will change out the tires on the affected vehicles.

The 30.5-inch 245/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse AT tires that come on the Transit Trail will be swapped down to 28-inch 235/65R16 tires of unknown type and origin. This is notable because this tire size is the same size that you get with the Goodyears on a regular Transit. So, the fix is essentially to downgrade one of the biggest selling points of the Transit Trail.

Some digging by owners reveals that the issue appears to be clearance between the tires and the van’s pinch seams in the wheel wells. Under braking and cornering, the bigger tires can make contact. A workaround some have suggested is to fold over the pinch seams for more clearance.

Perhaps the weirdest part of the recall is that not every Transit Trail is expected to be hit. The recall says 1,902 vans are potentially involved and 25 percent of the vans are expected to have the tire clearance defect. It goes on to say that the defect impacts Transit Trails built from March 2022, before the van was announced in America, to March 2024. It’s unclear whether Transit Trails built after March all come with the downgraded tires or if the error from the upfitter will have been corrected.

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The tire change drops the lowest point ground clearance to 5.5 inches. Ford Pro has not published adjusted ramp angles for the recalled vans, but they won’t get any better. As it is, the Transit Trail already had worse angles and clearance than the AWD version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. That van has 8 inches of ground clearance plus 26-degree approach, 25-degree departure, and 23-degree breakover angles, respectively.

So, what does this leave affected owners? Well, they still get the aggressive body cladding, the sort of Raptor-inspired grille, a 6,500-pound tow rating, the lift kit, the electrical system, and the unique wheels. Some might get away with aftermarket tires, but they will also likely run into the rubbing issue. That also leaves you with the “skid plate-style” front bumper. Yep, what looks like a skid plate up front is a piece of plastic. The rock slider-style steps are also more for show.

Some owners have been reporting issues with the optional roof fan install, including water leaks through the bolts. One person received a new Transit Trail with rust spots on its roof, bubbling interior paint, and a fan install that looks worse than a new RV out of Indiana.

As I said before, the Transit Trail is supposed to be Ford’s answer to easier camper van builds. However, the tire recall and potential upfitter quality problems may turn some buyers away. We also want to know if the small tires are here to stay and what kind of tires buyers will be getting moving forward. We’ve reached out to Ford for comment on these issues and more and will update when we hear back.

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sentinelTk
sentinelTk
1 month ago

Anyone losing their mind over Tesla’s CT pedal fix being a rivet/screw should be going nuclear over this…..

(requisite Tesla disclaimer: not a stan, just find the disproportional reactions funny)

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 month ago

Seems like you could change the offset of the wheels to push them out a bit. Or add a spacer.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
29 days ago

Increasing the offset pushes the tire beyond the factory wheel flares which would violate many state laws making the vehicle ineligible for sale. You also increase load on the wheel bearings which is never a great idea.

Mike B
Mike B
29 days ago

That will most likely make it worse, as it increases the scrub radius. On IFS Toyotas going to wheel spacers or a wider wheel often causes tire rub on the chassis and front bumper, even with OEM sized tires. .

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
29 days ago
Reply to  Mike B

Yeah, it says it’s rubbing at 60% lock which implies to me that it’s the outer edge of the tire. Spacing it out would just make it worse.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
1 month ago

How is this not a buy-back if they completely change the spec of the car that you bought?

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
29 days ago

I agree. This does seem like they should at least option a buy-back. Imagine if you bought a Raptor with the 37 package and they recalled it to put 35s back on it.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Hey let’s not attack Ford to quickly. I had a few Ford trucks with the small V8 Popcorn spark plugs. The motor spit out plugs because Ford was able to save a penny by using plugs with less thread. So after awhile pop lose a plug. Now they refused a recall, bit even awake of the issue they kept turning the popcorn V8 Out but fortunately a third party designed a fix which is used on rebuilt 518s. But at least now they are fixing issues. They wonder why we buy foreign cars. Are they that stupid?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I take it you weren’t aware that they massively increased the thread engagement on 5.4 Tritons starting in 2006 model year?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I was no, nor was my 2007 E350SD.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

So you’re saying you managed to blow the threads out of a 2007 3v 5.4? That would be extremely impressive, because they have massive thread engagement. So much so that it caused other problems.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Well ìt blew the spark plugs out of their holes. Mechanic used a kit to repair and make sure no more plugs could be blown out. After that I did have replace the motor later.

Matt Barko
Matt Barko
1 month ago

Seems like they skipped the last step in fitting oversized tires; BFH vs pinch weld until rubbing stops. It’s a required step when you go for 33s or larger in a Tacoma.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Barko

BFH? I assume that’s shorthand for Big #@!&*^% Hammer?

Matt Barko
Matt Barko
29 days ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

Exactly, a mini sledge can solve the vast majority of minor tire clearance issues.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

It seems like you could just mitigate this by knowing about the issue and avoiding this type of maneuver. If your vehicle is full laden, don’t trail brake. Obviously there might be a rare situation where it happens anyway, but probably 99.9% can be avoided simply by driving the vehicle like the big, tall, heavily loaded van it is.

LX Arlo
LX Arlo
1 month ago

Right? Although this seems like this would be a in and out of driveways/articulation off road problem. The standard fix for off road wheel rubbing is folding the pinch welds anyway.

I think as long as there are off road tire options in the reduced size, then the fix is acceptable. It’s doubtful the huge van loses any off road capability with slightly smaller tires.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  LX Arlo

Or just designers pulling their heads out of their ask me no more questions. You advertise it deliver it.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
1 month ago

Apparently these vans also had a stock 85-mph limiter that wasn’t really publicized anywhere. Owners found out about it when they tried to make passes on freeways in the Mountain West. Supposedly due to liability from the extra-tall center of gravity from a van that started life ten feet tall and then was given a few more inches of factory-warranteed lift. There are some delicious threads on the Ford Transit owners’ forums.

Last edited 1 month ago by Totally not a robot
Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
1 month ago

Drive your van until the tires are down to the wear bars, THEN bring it in for the recall.

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 month ago

Seems on par with Ford recalls. They don’t actually fix it, just mitigate it.

Church
Church
1 month ago

Yeah, that isn’t the easiest test to do before selling the car, but it’s not that hard, either. I feel like this should have been caught before sales started.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

Agreed – cycling the suspension with the new tires and overall setup to check clearances shouldn’t be skipped.

Not exactly the same, but reminds of what happens with the heaviest Jeep Wranglers that add the XR package and constantly bottom out the front suspension dir to extended bump stops.

What a stupid, sad way to go about making cars IMHO.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

The funny part is this is actually very simple for OEMs to do as their CAD models almost always have fully modeled exclusion zones that show where a tire can be under nearly every combination of body and wheel location. The problem is Ford farmed this package out to some other company and clearly did zero checking on their work, and likely didn’t provide the full models to the company that made the package.

If the tire rubbing happened at 90% steering under braking, I’d give them a pass at a harder to catch edge case. But 60% of ANY loading case is completely unacceptable, and shows how little validation work was actually done. I swear, Ford really is just phoning it in on quality.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago

I’d never say no to free tires. This is better than the Pirelli recall on the front tire of my KTM. The remediation step was a credit based on tire wear. Mine was good for a whopping $20 so I still have a front tire 11 years later that could theoretically explode.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 month ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

That’s still better than what I got from the Continental scooter tire recall. They sent me $0.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

I have to chuckle at “skid plate-style bumper.” It’s like the modern version of GM’s “rallye” package gimmick of years past, or anytime I see “racing-inspired” appended to pretty much anything.

Still love it all though.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
1 month ago

Holy crap, I would be pissed if I’d bought something and there was a recall that then undid a large part of what I had chosen the vehicle for.

It is messed up that their solution was small tires and not a change to spring rates or a better solution.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago

Ford: Quality is Job 1 2 3 4 just send it out

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Look for the Union Label!

PlugInPA
PlugInPA
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

What union do the people who designed this flawed upfit package belong to?

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
29 days ago
Reply to  PlugInPA

UAW 1869 probably. But in any case, I have no idea why Mr Sarcastic thinks non-Union labor is immune to mistakes. But he’s a troll. Worth ignoring.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
1 month ago

this smells like a class action waiting to happen. who wins? the lawyers do!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  Bassracerx

And if following true to Ford, some sort of extended, acrimonious public laundry-airing.

“Those transmissions are JUST FINE damnit!”

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