NHTSA ends Ford E Series HVAC investigation, no recall ordered
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation of select Ford Econoline, E350 and E450 full sized vans began in late 2009 after the federal safety authority received over a thousand complaints about the HVAC control switches getting hot – hot enough to stop working, melt and in some cases, even catch fire. A few months after opening the investigation into the switch panel in over 1.1 million Ford vans, the case was elevated to an engineering analysis. This step typically leads to a mandated recall but after more than two years of work with those switch panels, the NHTSA has not found any safety defect that requires a recall of these vehicles.
The NHTSA found that when the switches in these 1997-2008 Ford E Series vans begin to fail, they are designed in such a way that there is little chance of the melting components leading to an open flame. That leads you to wonder what exactly happened in the case of the two vehicles that did catch fire but with just two cases out of more than 1.1 million vehicles, it seems like a fairly rare issue and in the opinion of the federal government – not enough to warrant a recall. For the record, there were no injuries in those two reported fires and in the other cases where the switch melted and created smoke, the smoke wasn’t thick enough to prevent the vehicle from being driven safely.