This newest Ford Escape recall pertains to 2001 through 2004 model year vehicles equipped with the 3.0L V6 and built from October 22, 1999 through January 23, 2004. In these vehicles, there is an increased risk of sudden unintended acceleration whether or not the cruise control system is being used. If the cruise control cable was damaged when the initial accelerator cable recall was performed, the cruise control cable could pin the accelerator cable against the engine cover when the gas pedal is pushed to the floor. Should the accelerator cable get hung up on the engine cover, the throttle position could be stuck at a point that would cause the vehicle to either accelerate quickly or be difficult to bring to a stop.
Ford Motor Company issued the large recall of the 2001-2004 Ford Escape sport utility vehicle after a significant amount of pressure from safety watchdog group the Center for Auto Safety (CAS). These 485,000 SUVs were first recalled in December of 2004 over a concern that a problem with the accelerator cable could cause sudden unintended acceleration. However, shortly after issuing this recall, Ford Motor Company found that the cruise control cable could be damage while the accelerator cable was being replaced and the damaged cruise control cable could cause unintended acceleration just as easily as the troublesome accelerator cable. Based on this finding, the Motor Company issued a notice to dealerships to be especially careful around the cruise control cable when performing the accelerator cable recall. Unfortunately, Ford Motor Company didn’t realize that there could be an issue after the initial recall repair until after dealerships had repaired 320,000 2001-2004 Escape SUVs – meaning that these vehicles were repaired before dealerships knew to be careful with the cruise control cables.
The Center for Auto Safety issued a similar statement demanding that the 2002-2004 Mazda Tribute also be recalled as it is mechanically identical to the Escape and was subject to the same recall in the mid-2000s. Mazda has not yet issued a recall of their own for the unintended acceleration concerns stemming from the earlier accelerator cable recall.
In addition to the Center for Auto Safety issuing a statement demanding that Ford re-recall the 2001-2004 Ford Escape SUVs and the 2002-2004 Mazda Tribute, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary investigation after receiving 99 complaints (68 ford Escape owners, 31 from Tribute owners) that resulted in 13 crashes and 9 injuries. One of those incidences occured in January 2012, when a 2002 Ford Escape driven by 17 year old Saige Bloom crashed in Arizona – killing the young girl. The cause of the accident was ruled to be sudden unintended acceleration stemming from a cruise control cable that had been damaged when it was repaired in January of 2005.
The new Ford Escape recall is set to begin on or before August 6th 2012, at which point Ford will ask owners to return to their local Ford dealership where the clearance between the engine cover and the accelerator cable. Ford expects that the parts needed to fix the 485,000 troublesome Escape SUVs will be available by mid-August and until those parts are ready – the dealership will apply a temporary fix of disconnecting the cruise control cable.
Owners of the 2001-2004 Ford Escape SUV can contact Ford Motor Company at 1-866-436-7332 in reference to recall campaign number 12S37.
The statement from Ford Motor Company made no mention of the 2002-2004 Mazda Tribute but with the NHTSA already investigating those Ford-built Mazda SUVs – we should expect that those vehicles will soon be recalled as well.