The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into the first-generation Ford Escape crossover. The NHTSA Ford Escape probe was opened after a petition was lodged, asking the agency to look into reports of unintended acceleration.
Biggest automotive bogeyman behind NHTSA Ford Escape probe
There is no worse bogeyman in the automotive industry than unintended acceleration, though fire ranks up there. Toyota can vouch for that. The latest car maker to be accused of making cars that have a defect resulting in unintended acceleration is Ford. The model in question is the Ford Escape crossover, especially those from 2002 to 2004.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was petitioned recently by the Center for Automotive Safety, which was asking for an NHTSA investigation into the matter, according to AutoGuide. The CAS has apparently succeeded, as an NHTSA Ford Escape probe has been announced by the agency, according to USA Today. NHTSA investigators are focusing on 2001 to 2004 Ford Escape and also Mazda Tribute crossovers, as the Tribute is a Mazda-badged Escape, equipped with a V-6.
Cable at fault
The issue, according to USA Today, is a damaged cruise control cable. The damage stems from a 2004 recall of the Escape. That recall, according to AutoGuide, was due to accelerator cables that could snag on the accelerator pedal, causing unintended acceleration. If the cruise control cable is damaged during the repair, the cruise control cable could loosen, causing it to possibly snag on a ridge on the top of the plastic engine cover. If that happens, the snagged cable can stick the throttle in the open position, causing the car to accelerate.
Ford, according to ABC15 in Phoenix, Ariz., issued a technical service bulletin during the recall after some of the recall repairs were performed, alerting dealer service technicians to damaged throttle cables causing unintended acceleration after a botched repair. However, some repairs were performed before that was known about, meaning a number of car with damaged cables are still on the road.
More than 700,000 vehicles in probe
To date, according to USA Today, there are 99 reports of unintended acceleration. There have been 13 crashes and one death. The sole fatality was a 17-year-old girl named Saige Bloom, according to ABC15, whose 2002 Ford Escape accelerated away, leading to a fatal wreck. Bloom’s Escape had received the recall repair before the bulletin had been issued and investigators found the cruise control cable had snagged on the engine cover.
The NHTSA Ford Escape probe could potentially affect 730,000 Ford Escape crossovers of the 2001 through 2004 model years, along a further 7,261 Mazda Tribute crossovers.