The first steps that led to the recall of over 217,000 Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles started back in December of 2004 when Ford Motor Company recalled almost a half million Escape SUVs over a concern that the accelerator cable could be faulty. That original recall also pertained to the Mazda Tribute SUVs from the same year which were mechanically identical to the Ford. Unfortunately, it seems that during the repair process for that 2004 recall, the cruise control cable that runs alongside the accelerator cable could have been damaged and that damage could lead to unintended acceleration. The actual cause of the cruise control related sudden unintended acceleration is the engine cover on 3.0L V6 models, which can hang up the accelerator cable if the cruise control cable is damaged. Ford Motor Company realized the risk of damaging the cruise control cable and issued a bulletin to their dealerships but by that time – over 320,000 Ford Escape SUVs had been serviced with potentially damaged cruise control cables. Interestingly, while the Escape and Tribute from 2001-2004 were both included in the original recall, Mazda did not notify their dealerships to be especially careful with the cruise control cable when replacing the accelerator cable.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into the 2001-2004 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute last week after almost 100 reports of a sticky accelerator. This case was intensified by a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, asking executives of both Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Corp to re-recall these vehicles to make sure that the cruise control cables have not been damaged. The CAS’s case was bolstered by an unfortunately accident in Arizona this past January that took the life of a 17 year old girl – an accident which was found to be caused by unintended acceleration due to the interference between the engine cover and the accelerator cable.
After the announcement of a pending investigation by the NHTSA and the pressure from the CAS, Ford Motor Company made the announcement yesterday to recall these 485,000 Escape vehicles around the world. Not surprisingly, Mazda made a similar decision, announcing that they would recall a spread of Tribute SUVs over the same concern but interestingly – Mazda has expanded the reach of this recall well beyond those models affected by the initial recall.
It turns out that the Mazda Tribute used the 3.0L V6 with the troublesome engine cover/accelerator cable combination during the period that was covered in the original 2004 recall (2001-2004) along with 2005, 2006 and 2008 (there was no Tribute in 2007). Even though those newer models were not subject to the original recall, Mazda has decided to get these models back in to apply the same engine cover repair as those models previously serviced under the initial recall. In total, the new Mazda Tribute unintended acceleration recall affects about 217,500 vehicles.