Ford is recalling nearly half a million 2001 to 2004 model Escape SUVsworldwide to fix sticking throttles or accelerators. The recall involves only 2001 to 2004 models with cruise control and 3-liter V-6 engines.

The recall was initiated after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation last week into the older Escapes and Mazda Tributes following multiple complaints about sticking throttles, including 13 crashes, 9 injuries and the January death of an Arizona teenager who could not stop her Escape from accelerating even when pressing on the brake.

The sticking throttle problem occurs when cruise control cables get hung up on the plastic engine cover. The cables cannot disengage from the plastic cover and cause the accelerator to stick in the full throttle position.

Ford assured owners the vehicle won’t accelerate by itself and claims the sticking throttle can only happen if two conditions exist: one, the throttle is pushed to the floor, and two, the cruise control cables are bent or moved from their original position. Cables can be moved during routine service but the NHTSA is also investigating whether repair of an accelerator cable problem in a 2004 recall somehow damaged the cruise control cables in these vehicles.

For now, Ford recommends affected Escape owners do the following:

  • Do not push the accelerator all the way to the floor; and
  • Take your vehicle to the dealer to have the cruise control cable disconnected until the repair is completed

Once parts are received, dealers will replace the engine cover fasteners so that the cruise control cable cannot get hung up. The recall should begin on or about August 6.

It’s not been a good couple of weeks for Ford. In mid-July Ford issued two recalls involving its best-selling 2013 Escape. First, Ford recalled 10,000 of the new SUV’s to fix braking issues caused by carpet padding problems on the driver’s side. Then, Ford took the drastic step of advising owners of the 2013 Escape with the new 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine to stop driving the vehicle completely because of a faulty fuel line which can cause engine fires. Both of these recalls are addressed in greater detail in another article on the Becker Law Office blog.

As of now, there is no recall of the 2001 to 2004 Mazda Tribute. (UPDATE below.)

For more information on the recall and how to get their vehicles repaired, affected Escape owners can contact Ford at:

1-866-436-7332

www.fordowner.com

UPDATE 7-27-12, 4:00 pm: Mazda has now recalled 215,000 Tributes in the 2002-2006 and 2008 model years, three more years of production than the Escape (the Tribute wasn’t made in 2007).