Ford’s Transit Trail Recall Fix for Tire Rub Is Just Installing Smaller Ones

The replacement tires are the same size as a normal Transit’s, and owners are unhappy.

byJames Gilboy|
2023 Ford Transit Trail


Last month, Ford recalled its off-road Transit Trail van after owners complained of tire rub problems that are unacceptable from a factory off-roader. Now, it seems Ford is throwing in the towel, as it's fitting the recalled vans with regular-sized tires that reduce its off-road capability.

As outlined in last month's recall documents, Ford stated it had contracted the Transit Trail to an upfitter that didn't verify that its enlarged Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse AT tires fit properly. That meant that in some situations, the tire could rub on the van's metal frame, risking tire damage that could lead to deflation. While the recall fix hadn't been announced at the time, an NHTSA document published April 17 describes Ford's plan to fix the faulty van—and it isn't good.

2023 Ford Transit Trail's recalled factory tires. Ford

The document states the recall service will involve downsizing the Transit Trail's 30.5-inch 245/75R16 tires to smaller, 28-inch 235/65R16 tires, or the standard size for on-road Transits. The original Goodyear tires are also manufactured in this size, though Ford did not specify in the recall document whether these would be the tires fitted during recall service.

This reduces the Transit Trail's ground clearance from 6.7 inches to just 5.5, which in turn drags down its ramp angles (though by how much is unclear). Ford doesn't state ground clearance for the regular Transit. This would appear to leave the Transit Trail mechanically on par with regular, cheaper Transits outside of some cosmetic off-road parts and its 6,500-pound towing capacity. Its front bumper is merely described as being "skid plate-style," while other off-road parts mainly consist of fender liners and cladding, splash guards, and side steps. That makes the Transit Trail not meaningfully different from an appearance package, and it has left owners displeased.

"This essentially negates one of the biggest, if not the biggest, selling points of this premium upgrade," a Transit Trail owner who wished to remain anonymous told The Drive. "[I'm] hoping Ford comes up with a better solution, especially for those that purchased before me and paid a premium plus big markups. It's both a departure of what was heavily advertised for this vehicle and a significant decrease in value."

2023 Ford Transit Trail optional ceiling fan. Ford

Owners have also reported other quality problems with the Transit Trail, which are believed to stem from the same upfitter whose tire choice Ford has had to correct. One owner claimed on Reddit to have heard of problems with leaks and rust from factory ceiling fan installations, and of an improperly calibrated speedometer that artificially limits the Transit Trail's speed to 77 mph. It seems there may be more wrong with the Transit Trail than just the van's tires, and that the package is garnering a poor reputation among van enthusiasts. At this rate, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Transit Trail discontinued in short order—though as always, that'll be for the market to decide.

Ford did not respond to our inquiry by time of publication.

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