This latest recall affects 485,000 2001-2004 Escapes with the 3.0-liter V6 engine and cruise control. These vehicles could experience unintended acceleration caused by their cruise control cable interfering with the throttle cable when the cruise is engaged. The potential interference between the two cables was not present when these vehicles left the factory, but rather was introduced later by repair procedures for another recall.
Ford originally recalled these Escapes in December 2004 to address an accelerator cable assembly defect. After discovering that its repair procedure could cause new problems, the automaker updated the repair procedure in October 2005. By that time, however, The Detroit News reports that 320,000 Escapes had already been fixed using the old procedure and their owners were never notified of the potential damage that was caused.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reports of 99 incidents alleging unintended acceleration in 2001-2004 Ford Escapes, as well as its mechanical twin at the time, the Mazda Tribute. Of those, 13 crashes and nine injuries were reported. In January, a 17-year-old died in Arizona while driving a 2002 Ford Escape that had been repaired before the updated repair procedure was available.
Ford's decision to implement this recall comes a week after the automaker was called out by the consumer group Center for Auto Safety to dispense with any investigation and recall the vehicles immediately.
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Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2001 through 2004 Escape vehicles equipped with 3.0L V6 engines and speed control manufactured from October 22, 1999, through January 23, 2004. Inadequate clearance between the engine cover and the speed control cable connector could result in a stuck throttle when the accelerator pedal is fully or almost-fully depressed. This risk exists regardless of whether or not speed control (cruise control) is used.
A stuck throttle may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop or slow the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.
Ford will notify owners, and dealers will repair the vehicles by increasing the engine cover clearance, free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on, or before, August 6, 2012. Remedy parts are expected to be available in mid-August 2012. Until then dealers will disconnect the speed control cable as an interim remedy, if parts are not available at the time of an owner's service appointment. Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.
Ford's recall campaign number is 12S37. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.