Ford has announced the third major recall of its extremely popular Escape SUV in the last two weeks, citing sticky throttles that could cause serious crashes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the recall covers 423,634 Ford Escapes with 3-liter, V6 engines. Ford has thus far reportedly received 68 complaints about the Escape, including reports about 13 crashes, nine injuries, and one fatality. Ford also recalled 11,500 of the newly redesigned 2013 Escape crossover vehicles with 1.6 liter engines, saying that the fuel line is prone to cracking and could lead to serious fires. Just a few days earlier, Ford recalled 10,000 other 2013 Escapes to fix a carpet problem that could interfere with a driver’s ability to brake.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it will mount an investigation into the sticky throttles, which may affect 730,000 V-6 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years. Part of the investigation will review whether changes made during a 2004 recall could have caused the current problems. About 590,000 Escapes and Tributes were recalled in December, 2004 to fix a separate defect in the accelerator cable. Ford has told owners to stop driving their 2013 Escapes until they can be repaired, and the company is offering loaner cars for owners to drive while their SUV is being fixed. For the earlier Escapes with throttle issues, Ford is asking for owners to refrain from pushing the pedal to the floor until dealers can be shipped the parts necessary to fix the vehicles.
According to ABC15, the latest Ford recall is due to an investigation by the family of a girl that passed away after her 2002 Ford Escape accelerated out of control and crashed in January. The problem is allegedly that the cruise control cables can stick to the engine cover when the accelerator pedal is almost fully or fully depressed, causing the throttle to stick open and the car to increase speed out of control. To fix this problem, Ford dealers are replacing the engine cover fasteners, making more room for the cruise control cable. This problem could also affect the identical Mazda tribute, which has not yet been recalled. The consumer group Center for Auto Safety had received 133 reports about the problem and has said that Ford knew about the problem as far back as 2005 but did not take action until now.