In 2005, Ford recalled the 2002-2004 Escape to fix a troubling flaw that could've kept the vehicle's engine revving. Now, a consumer advocacy group insists that in the process of making those repairs, Ford created another problem -- one that leaves the Escape vulnerable to unintended acceleration.
According to an article in the New York Times, Ford recalled approximately 470,000 Escape vehicles from the 2002-2004 model years in late 2005. The recall came about in response to reports that the Escape's accelerator cable was getting caught on the vehicle's gas pedal, which prevented the Escape's engine from idling.
Shortly after issuing that recall, however, the automaker sent a memo to dealers, asking them to take extra care when carrying out the repair, lest they damage the cruise control cable in the process. If that cable were compromised, it could also snag -- this time, on a piece of the engine cover -- leading to instances of unintended acceleration.
Now, the watchdogs at the Center for Auto Safety are asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue another recall for the 2002-2004 Escape to repair potential damage to the cruise control cable. According to the group, Ford never informed the 320,000 owners who had their Escapes repaired that they might be exposing their vehicles to additional problems.
The Center for Auto Safety has linked the death of a 17-year-old to the Escape's cruise control cable flaw, and there are several complaints posted on the organization's website, including this one:
The car accelerated to about 70-75 MPH before I slammed both of my feet on the brake pedal and swerved to avoid colliding with the cars stopped in front of me. I could only slow the car to about 50-55 MPH with both feet on the brake pedal. I narrowly missed hitting cars around me until I was able to put the car into neutral and slow down. I then had to turn the car off to stop, as the accelerator pedal was still fully engaged.
The New York Times found an additional 133 complaints about the problem on the NHTSA website, though the paper didn't find any evidence that NHTSA has investigated those complaints.
For its part, Ford has expressed sympathy for the death of the 17-year-old and says that the company is conducting its own investigation into the matter, though it has not reached any conclusions.
We'll keep you posted as this story develops.