Unintended Acceleration Recall Issued for Ford Escape Following Fatality

Troubles continue for the Ford Motor Company as more than 420,000 Ford Escapes sold in the United States were recalled because of a problem that can cause the gas pedal to stick. Affected vehicles include Escape models from the years 2001 through 2004 with the 3.0 liter, V-6 engine. The Ford Escape is a popular, top-selling vehicle in the small SUV class.

Ford Escape RecallFord was in the final stages of an internal investigation into the issue when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an inquiry. The NHTSA reports received 68 complaints including 13 accidents, nine injuries and one death; a teenage girl died in Arizona earlier this year when the vehicle in which she was traveling unintentionally accelerated.

The issue stems back to the year 2005 when Ford recalled 470,000 2002 to 2004 Escapes to address a problem with accelerator cables becoming caught on the accelerator pedal. Ford instructed dealers to install a fastener that would raise the engine cover and leave more room for the cable.

At the time, the repair for the issue was questioned by the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), a consumer watchdog group. See http://www.autosafety.org for details. It now appears that the new reports do stem from Ford’s earlier fix for the problem. CAS notes that during the earlier recall, Ford found it necessary to caution dealers of the unintended additional damage to the cruise control cable that could occur when making the repair. CAS clams this proves that Ford knew about the potential for throttle issues as far back as 2005.

In fact, the Center for Auto Safety has filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting an investigation into the Ford Escapes that could experience unintended acceleration. The group claims that Ford did not provide a proper solution to the original issue even after learning of potential problems. CAS has also asked NHTSA’s David Strickland to impose a fine of $17 million, the maximum possible, against Ford Motor Company for its failure to recall these vehicles properly back in 2005.

Consumers are urged to return to their Ford dealers to address the problem. However, Ford has not completed the process of putting together the repair kit and instructions for dealers. Meanwhile, concerned consumers can go to Ford and have the cruise control cable temporarily disconnected to prevent any potential issues. Ford expects to have the repair available to its dealerships in mid-August.

The NHTSA investigation remains open and the agency will continue to monitor any issues with unintended acceleration or stuck throttles in these vehicles.