CAS Petitions NHTSA to Evaluate Ford Escape Complaints

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Recalls are vital to preserving public safety, but as this next story illustrates, sometimes the repairs needed to correct a defect might entail an additional defect that can’t be ignored.

Recently, Ford instituted a recall of 470,000 Escape sport utility vehicles from the 2002 through the 2004 model years that contained a three liter V-6 engine.  The recall was necessitated because there existed a possibility that the accelerator cable could actually catch on the gas pedal, making it difficult if not impossible for a driver to put their vehicle into the parked position.

One would think that the recall would have taken care of the issue and that would have been the end of the story.  But if a recent petition filed by the Center for Auto Safety is to be believed, the story is only just beginning.  The petition alleges that the repairs that were made to fix the original vehicle defect actually led to damage that itself could directly compromise the safety of persons onboard.

The group alleges that Ford warned dealers of the issue by means of a technical service bulletin.  In it, they supposedly told repair personnel to be wary of causing damage to the cruise control cable that rests near the defective accelerator cable.  According to the CAS, the bulletin went on to state that this cable, if compromised, would be in danger on catching on an engine cover ridge, which would lead the vehicles to potentially accelerate out of control.

The CAS alleges that Ford never alerted the owners of the 320,000 repaired vehicles that this unintended acceleration danger might suddenly be posed.  Whether related or not, there have been 133 reports of unintended acceleration in association with these vehicles made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  However, it should be noted that some of these complaints occurred before the original recall was issued.  This suggests that the two issues might be unrelated.

The NHTSA has not given any inclination that they will react to either the complaints or to the new petition.  Petitions can be filed by anyone, and once that petition reaches the NHTSA, the organization must decide whether or not an investigation is warranted.

Not surprisingly, the CAS wants to see another recall issued on those vehicles that could suffer from this second defect.  In addition, they would like to see a fine imposed upon Ford, given what they perceive as a reckless and deceptive action.

Stay tuned for further developments.