Ford has announced the recall of about 421,000 Escapes from 2001-4 in the United States over a defect in the cruise control cables that could make the vehicles susceptible to unintended acceleration, the New York Times reports.
The recall was announced after a recent demand by the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit consumer group, that Ford fix the cables, which the center said could be damaged by repairs for an unrelated recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it is following the issue and opening an investigation.
The New York Times notes that the Mazda Tribute is a mechanical sibling of the Escape produced by Ford, and quotes a Mazda spokeswoman as saying: “We are aware that Ford has issued a recall on their Escape model. Throughout, our engineering team has been working with N.H.T.S.A. as well as counterparts from Ford, but we do not have any status updates we can provide as to next-steps at this time.”
In an e-mailed statement, Ford said it was recalling the Escapes with the 3-liter V-6 engines to increase the clearance beneath the engine cover.
A Ford spokeswoman said under normal circumstances, the clearance is adequate. But the cable was vulnerable to damage during some repairs, and the condition could prevent a fully depressed gas pedal from returning to a position in which the engine was idling, causing unintended acceleration.
In a letter to the N.H.T.S.A., Ford said it decided on the recall in part after examining the 2002 Escape in which Saige Bloom, 17, died in a crash in Payson, Ariz., in January. Still, the company has not acknowledged there was a problem with that vehicle.
In its request for a recall, the Center for Auto Safety said an expert hired by the Bloom family concluded the cruise control cable had been damaged.
The center contends that the cruise control cables are being damaged during a separate recall, noting a 2005 technical service bulletin the automaker had sent dealers warning them to be careful not to damage the cruise control cable in the course of other repairs.
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