(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
DETROIT -- Ford is facing another recall of its popular Escape crossover - this time 485,000 vehicles from the 2001 to 2004 model years, whose throttles could stick during heavy acceleration.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week said it was investigating Escapes and related Mazda Tributes after receiving 99 complaints, including reports of 13 crashes, nine injuries and one fatality - a 17-year-old girl who died in January in Arizona. Sixty-eight of the complaints were for Escapes.
Ford has determined the throttles can stick in Escapes with six-cylinder engines and cruise control if the accelerator pedal is pushed down nearly to the floor, spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said. Those engines need more space between the engine cover and speed control cable, she said. So Ford will raise the vehicles' engine covers by replacing a fastener, providing enough clearance for the cable. Dealerships should be able to complete the fix while customers wait.
The recall is the third in about two weeks for an Escape model. The other two recalls - one related to a possible engine fire and the other to impaired braking - were for the all-new 2013 Escape, which Ford is launching in Louisville, Ky. The recalls pose challenges to Ford's quest to build on the Escape's title as the sixth-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2011, according to Autodata.
"We are committed to top quality, but we are equally committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly for our customers when we feel like we have one," Zwiebel said.
The parts for this most recent recall won't be available for a few weeks, she said. So Ford is asking customers to try to refrain from depressing their accelerator pedal close to the floor, Zwiebel said. Customers may also bring their vehicle to a Ford dealership for an interim fix, in which the service department will disable the cruise control and move the speed-control cable.
The government has yet to announce the recall and say whether it involves Mazda Tributes.
In the most recent recall of a new Escape, related to the engine-fire risk in 11,500 models with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, Ford instructed owners to stop driving the vehicles.
(Detroit Free Press)