The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has opened an investigation of 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan vehicles due to owner complaints of unintended acceleration. The safety agency will explore allegations that gas pedals can become lodged under unsecured floor mats.
Three complaints of unintended acceleration have been verified by NHTSA, all of which occurred when an optional Ford “All Weather” rubber mat was placed on top of the standard mat. The unsecured rubber mat slipped forward, trapping the gas pedal.
In conjunction with the investigation, NHTSA has issued a warning that owners should not place any floor mats, whether made by Ford or an aftermarket manufacturer, on top of the secured, carpeted floor mat on the driver’s side.
Ford spokesman Said Deep said that consumers should not be alarmed and the issue is strictly related to the stacking of unsecured floor mats and has nothing to do with the vehicles’ gas pedals. “We do not recommend stacking floor mats in any vehicle from any manufacturer,” he said.
Deep noted that the company had not received any complaints of unintended acceleration with the standard, carpeted mats that are secured to the floor. He also explained that Ford prints a warning on all of its “All Weather” floor mats as well as the packaging they come in that explicitly states they should not be stacked on other mats.
Deep stated that the company was cooperating with the NHTSA investigation.
One complaint to NHTSA described the episode like this: “When commuting to work on April 16th, I pressed the accelerator to the floor as I moved into a much faster traffic lane. Upon completion of this maneuver I eased up on the gas, but the pedal stayed down and the car kept accelerating, unintentionally at this point.”
The driver of the car was able to stop their car from accelerating and “once in the garage, and with the engine off... was able to replicate the floor mat-throttle interference.”
The agency said that throttle sticking is most likely to occur when the driver pushes the gas pedal down substantially, in instances such as merging onto the freeway or passing other cars in traffic.
No crashes or injuries have yet been reported.
The NHTSA investigation echoes a recent investigation of Toyota vehicles. Unintended acceleration was blamed on gas pedals sticking under floor mats in several high-profile cases – one of which resulted in the death of a family in California. Millions of Toyota vehicles have been recalled as a result, harming the company’s reputation.