2020 Lincoln Aviator Problems Analysis

Electrical system, backover prevention, powertrain, and brake issues are the most common according to our data

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Luxury three-row SUVs are growing in popularity, with many consumers opting for the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. But when a vehicle has not only consumer complaints but also escalating manufacturer recalls, how can owners embrace the automaker’s invitation to “discover the power of sanctuary”? It’s a tough call for those who find themselves with faulty electrics, rearview cameras that malfunction, and brakes that fail.

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2020 Aviator Problems Breakdown

There are so many problems with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, it’s surprising there aren’t even more complaints! The biggest issue is that the problems are so broad and varied, consumers are struggling to come to terms with them. And with 17 recalls initiated by the automaker from August 2019 until May 2024, there is no question why consumer confidence in this model is at an all-time low. After all, these aren’t consumer complaints. These are issues that Ford acknowledges are problematic.

If we look at complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and recalls in terms of numbers, you will see that the electrical system and backover prevention top the list. The powertrain and brakes also feature a relatively large number of complaints. Other components and systems include the engine, interior and exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, fuel system, lane departure, seats and seat belts, steering, structure, suspension, visibility, and wheels.

As of June 7, 2024, there were 17 recalls for the 2020 Aviator. These don’t tally completely with complaint issues. There are so many possibilities, we cannot give a detailed breakdown. Also, when you look at the recalls, some relate to more than one issue. For example, a 2019 recall for vehicles still in factory mode is considered to be both a parking brake and powertrain issue.

Summary of Recalls for the 2020 Lincoln Aviator

Before we look at the complaints from consumers in more detail, let’s get some insight from the recalls that Ford has applied. They warn Aviator owners about problems and tell dealers what to do to help owners who are affected.

While some recalls warn of the increased danger of crashing or injury, a high percentage warn of the risk of fire. Additionally, recalls don’t necessarily solve the problems.

  • Airbags (1): Some fasteners aren’t tightened properly and can affect the deployment of airbags.
  • Backover Prevention (6): All six recalls are due to issues with the rearview camera potentially reducing the driver’s visibility.
  • Electrical System (3): Two of these cite a risk of fire — one related to the battery and the other to an unsecured wire harness.
  • Engine (1): Motor mount fasteners can loosen over time, resulting in a loss of power.
  • Fuel system/gasoline (1): Fuel lines could chafe together causing a fuel leak, which is another fire risk.
  • Parking Brake (1): Thousands of vehicles might have been released without covers. This fault would allow them to roll away.
  • Powertrain (2): A drive shaft may fracture on a weld seam, which also creates a fire risk. The parking brake recall also relates to the powertrain.
  • Seat Belts (1): Warning chimes may not sound to alert people of unbelted seat belts.
  • Seats (2): A side airbag might be loose in the seat back. Also, seat backs may not be strong enough.
  • Suspension (1): Rear lower control arm bolts could break causing drivers to lose steering control.
  • Visibility (2): Damaged electrical wires may short-circuit and increase the risk of a fire. Also, washer systems may be contaminated with brake fluid … If this happens, and you’re driving, you may not be able to clear the windshield.

Electrical System Problems

Nearly 40% of NHTSA complaints relate to electrical system problems. Some combine other systems or components including the powertrain, forward collision avoidance, backover prevention, steering, and exterior lighting.

One of the major electrical issues relates to exit switches that suddenly stop working. Yet, despite the many recalls, this huge safety issue has not been addressed.

Faulty Exit Switches

An owner from Washington who is a professional firefighter, states that he takes this problem very seriously. “After doing some research for the last two hours online, I’ve found that dozens of people have experienced the exact same malfunction on their 2020 Lincoln Aviators.” He states he couldn’t believe that there isn’t a recall for this issue. His complaint describes how the exit switches on both rear doors on his wife’s 2020 Lincoln Aviator suddenly stopped working. For whatever reason, Lincoln decided to make the exit handles electronic instead of a traditional pull-style exit handle. This is a HUGE safety concern as the passengers in the rear of the vehicle are now trapped inside.”

An owner from California reports multiple electrical failures in a complaint. Unhappy with Ford’s service and response, he traded the vehicle in but still lodged a complaint with the NHTSA. “The biggest issue I addressed with Ford was since there is only one way out, how were the passengers supposed to get out? They told me they had to climb over everything to go out the driver’s door. Then I asked what if the person is large and has disabilities — they are stuck. Also, what if there is an accident and they hit the driver’s door? Then there is no way out. I also said, what if the car is going to catch fire, then what? You can’t get out.

“I mentioned we have a 2006 Corvette and we have 3 ways to get out of that car if the battery goes dead. I feel this car is very unsafe and I traded it off and will never buy another car without door handles inside and outside.”

Multiple Safety Systems Affected

When an owner from Texas started using his 2020 Aviator after garaging it for nearly a year because of COVID-19, he discovered there were many electrical problems affecting the various safety systems. These included false vehicle theft alarms, “Pre-Collision Assist Not Available” warnings, “Remote Features Disabled” notices, “Hill Assist Warning” detecting a failure, rear camera flickering, Adaptive Cruise Control not functioning, adaptive headlights not functioning, and the Lane Keeping Assist warning and corrective feature was non-functional. The complaint states that the driver and “passengers were put at risk because of the vehicle’s inoperative and failing electronics. Pedestrians and rear cross-traffic were put at risk due to intermittent failures of detectors and (the) rear camera.”

Despite a Ford engineer from the automaker’s Grapevine Lincoln headquarters examining the vehicle, all attempts to correct these safety issues failed. Also, neither the dealership nor Ford Motor Company would “provide information of the issues found because of a Lemon Lawsuit we had filed.”

An owner from another part of Texas reported that in reverse (both static and in motion), the rearview camera flickers constantly between (the) image and (the) black screen. This makes it unsafe to use the car in reverse or to be able to depend on the camera for visibility of obstacles. Despite four attempts by Lincoln to fix the problem, including replacement of the rear backup camera under warranty, the complaint states that this safety issue was not resolved.

Backover Prevention

Predictably, numerous backover prevention complaints relate to the Aviator’s rearview camera. Despite six recalls, there are complaints that the recall repair parts weren’t available after owners had been notified about the recall. There are also reports that the failure persists after the repair.

An owner from Los Angeles states that the recall repair did not remedy the issue of a blue rearview camera screen. “They released another recall and have continuously delayed it as they have no remedy. So my vehicle is left without a functioning rearview camera.”

Similarly, an owner from Michigan who had experienced rear camera failures and had the recall repair done, states “the failure persisted.” Both the rearview camera image and infotainment image were “intermittently black or blue.” Apart from the fact that the part to do the recall repair was not yet available, the dealer was unable to duplicate the failure.

An owner from Virginia states, “This vehicle has been recalled at least twice for a faulty rear camera system. When (the) vehicle is put in reverse the image on the screen flips so bad you cannot see what is behind you. The previous recalls were for this. We had it in the shop twice before the 2 recalls — plus the two recalls (4 times) and cannot get a properly working rear camera.” The complaint states that this is a safety issue because they rely on the camera to see blind spots while reversing “and to see behind this large vehicle. Ford cannot figure out how to fix it.”

Powertrain Problems

Complaints about the 2020 Aviator powertrain include the transmission slipping out of gear and unintended acceleration. An owner from Pennsylvania experienced unintended acceleration while trying to accelerate. The vehicle lurched forward and the “service vehicle wrench icon was displayed. It then started to experience reduced engine power.” The dealer said “The front axle actuator and intermediate shaft were faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure persisted.”

Similarly, an owner from Tennessee states, “Without notice, the transmission would downshift and lunge forward.” It was so hard, “it felt like we were hit from behind. When trying to accelerate it would stay in gear longer than normal and clunk forward again. Smelt burning through the vents.” Also, when accelerating it would slip out of gear. “We were on the highway at highway speed in traffic and without warning the vehicle wouldn’t accelerate and were inches from being rear-ended by the tractor-trailer behind me. I was fearful for my life and the life of my family in the vehicle.”

An owner from California was on the way to a family vacation when the transmission slipped out of gear on the freeway. “I proceeded to pump the fuel. It caught after about five seconds and took off. I was barely able to hit the brakes before hitting the car in front of me” The Ford dealer was unable to recreate the failure.

An owner from Oklahoma was driving with the accelerator pedal depressed, but the vehicle failed to respond. The vehicle hesitated and “the transmission failed to shift out of first gear.” The complaint dated December 4, 2023, states that the failure had occurred three times within the past two months.

Problems with the Brakes

Faulty brakes can cost lives. Luckily there aren’t any complaints that report crashes or injuries.One NHTSA complaint states, “With my car in Park, I have shifted to Drive and Reverse, and while maintaining my foot on the brake after transferring to Drive or Reverse, the car has moved by itself by approximately 3 feet before coming to a stop. Each time this has happened I was on a level surface. The dealership inspected my car but could not find anything that would cause this to happen.”

This is a common problem. An owner from Utah says that “when putting the vehicle into gear (with the brake pedal pressed) it sometimes begins moving and the brake pedal does not engage the brakes. This forces the driver to quickly put the car back into Park to stop the vehicle.”

Additionally, there are several complaints that report brake failures.

Brake Failure

An owner from Illinois experienced “complete brake failure” while driving at 50 mph on a highway. The car ahead was slowing down but the Aviator’s brakes wouldn’t engage. The driver “pumped multiple times all the way to (the) floor — nothing.” Then he went through an intersection and eventually managed to stop the vehicle with the parking brake in a parking lot. “After (the) incident (the) brakes worked again so no idea what failed. This car has intermittent and infrequent strange electronic glitches but never of (a) safety nature before.”

An owner from Virginia tells how the brakes failed while going down the driveway, which is a steep hill. There were six error “service now” messages: service advancetrac, check brake system, hill descent control fault, park brake malfunction, and pre-collision assist not available. The driver was able to roll to a stop and called a tow truck. The dealer said “Recall 20u29 applies (and) gave me a dozen ‘codes’ for faulty/affected systems on (the) car before I stopped him because I did not understand the acronyms. I have searched and cannot find a recall by that number. The brake failure was scary and I am glad it occurred at home.”

What To Do If It’s a Lemon

There are so many problems with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator you may be wondering if you have bought a lemon. Not every vehicle is a dud, but if yours is, you can do something about it. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you. And you won’t have to pay the legal bills because the law says that the automaker is liable.

Contact Lemberg Law today! We will assess your problems and see what we can do to help you. 

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Mike

    Aviator I bought was certified back in late May 2022. Every single issue from the EVPA to sensors not working and my driving the car coming into question by the dealership. Utterly pissed that a $60,000 price tag on a used car has now got Evaporative issues after the dealer just did work on my car to repair a number of sensors going off. It’s utterly ridiculous that a car with a price tag this high brand new or used and or certified can’t be maintained like my former foreign cars. Utterly disgraceful that Ford and Lincoln just simply can’t hire enough competent and experienced repair techs. I had to do a ton of digging into the issues to find wha the other issues might’ve been and now it is possible that this damn vehicle may be still stuck on dealer mode which would explain why all these issues are triggered to start and maybe all this repair work might not have been needed.

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