The recalls, which hadn't yet been posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the time of posting, affect Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner models from the 2008 through 2011 model years, as well as some 2011-2013 Ford Explorer models, due to potential issues with electric power steering systems.
According to Ford, the issues, affect 736,407 Escape and Mariner models in the U.S., as well as 177,747 U.S.-market Explorer models. Including Canada, Mexico, and U.S. territories, the sum of these recalls exceeds 1.1 million vehicles.
In each of these affected vehicles, a failure of the system could cause a sudden loss of power steering assist. The driver could, in some instances, and with much greater effort, still be able to steer the vehicle safely off the road, but the condition increases the risk of a crash.
The issue, in the Escape and Mariner, pertains to the torque sensor in the steering column, and it will be remedied in three different ways, depending on the diagnostic trouble codes showing when the vehicle is brought to the dealership. Fixes could include updating software, replacing the torque sensor, or replacing the steering column.
In the Explorer, the issue is with a “potential intermittent electrical connection in the steering gear,” having the same effect—of a sudden loss of steering assist while driving.
That somewhat different issue will be remedied in two different ways, depending on the trouble codes displayed—either with a software update, or with a complete replacement of the steering gear. Ford notes that on the Explorer the most common fix is likely to be a software update.
Escapes and Matiners covered by the recall include those built from August 18, 2006 through September 11, 2010 at Ford's Kansas City Assembly plant, while the Explorer recall covers those models built from May 17, 2010 through February 28, 2012, at the Chicago Assembly Plant.
Those curious about the recall timeline or whether their vehicle might be affected can check with Ford's Customer Relationship Center at 1-866-436-7332, or go to FordOwner.com.