The latest recall covers 6,146 U.S. vehicles, as well as about 1,300 vehicles sold in Canada, all with the new 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All the affected vehicles were built prior to September 1, 2012.
According to recall documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford says that the cylinder-head cup plug (freeze plug) could become dislodged, leading to significant loss of coolant and, potentially in high-load conditions, an engine-compartment fire due to ignition of the coolant's glycol.
If the engine plug fails, it would likely be accompanied by warnings from the instrument cluster.
Leading up to the recall, Ford has seen one fire due to the issue—last month, in a vehicle prior to customer delivery—and another at the assembly plant that could be related to the problem.
To remedy the issue, Ford will have owners of the affected Escape vehicles return to the dealership, where the existing plug will be sealed and a secondary cover will be added.
This is the third significant recall that Ford has issued for the 2013 Escape, which is an all-new model—and an especially important one, as the model it replaces was a longtime best-seller in in its segment of the U.S. vehicle market.
In July, Ford warned of another more significant fire risk for vehicles with the 1.6-liter engine—due to the possibility of a leaky fuel line. Also in July it cautioned, via a separate recall notice, of carpet padding that may have been incorrectly positioned during assembly and could interfere with braking. Those two recalls cover 9,320 and 8,266 U.S. vehicles, respectively, with some vehicles affected by multiple recall efforts.
Ford will be notifying owners of the affected vehicles for this latest recall beginning September 10, 2012; in the meantime owners may contact Ford at 866-436-7332 to see if their vehicle is affected.