The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it will investigate problems with stalling or surging engines in nearly 725,000 Ford cars and SUVs.
The probe affects Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs and Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans from the 2009 through 2011 model years.
The vehicles can unexpectedly go into “limp home mode” at reduced power, the agency said in documents posted Monday on its website. NHTSA and Ford have received almost 1,500 complaints about the problem. There were three crashes and one injury.
NHTSA began looking into the cars and SUVs after getting a request from the North Carolina Consumers Council last year. Non-profit safety groups and consumers can petition the agency to investigate vehicle problems.
The cars and SUVs haven’t been recalled, but the investigation could lead to a recall.
The Fusion and Milan are nearly identical cars with the same engines, as are the Escape and Mariner. Ford scrapped the Mercury brand in 2010.
The North Carolina organization said it received two complaints about 2009 Escapes that had been diagnosed with throttles either stuck open or closed. The group said that owners reported repeated stalling and surging.
Ford told NHTSA that vehicles made from June 22, 2009, to Oct. 15, 2009, may have faulty printed circuit boards that control the throttles. Ford and its throttle body supplier, Delphi Corp., changed the circuit board manufacturing process after Oct. 15, 2009. That resolved the problem, NHTSA said in documents posted Monday on its website.
NHTSA said it analyzed 123 complaints about the cars or SUVs going into what’s known as limp mode, in which vehicle speed was limited to 32.2 km/h or 900 engine revolutions per minute. Drivers may interpret the limp mode as stalling, even though the engines still move the vehicles, the agency said. Vehicles usually go into limp mode when computers detect an engine problem. This allows drivers to get to a safe place while protecting the engine from damage.
Power surges appear to happen when the engine revolutions fluctuate to prevent stalling during limp mode, the agency said.
But even though Ford said the throttle problem with the Escape was resolved with the manufacturing change, NHTSA still decided to investigate vehicles from the 2010 and 2011 model years. The agency says it received 59 complaints of engine stalling in 2010 and 2011 Fusions. Eighty per cent of the complaints were received starting in March of 2012, showing an increasing trend, the agency said.
In addition, Ford has received 27,505 warranty claims in which the throttle bodies were repaired or replaced, NHTSA said.
Ford said Monday that it’s co-operating with NHTSA on the investigation.
Its shares rose 4 cents to $12.52 (U.S.) in morning trading on the NYSE. They have traded in a 52-week range of $8.82 to $14.39.
Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X