For The Ford Escape, A Recall Begets A Tragic Recall

By Blake Z. Rong | July 12, 2012
When the accelerator cables were replaced on the 2002-2004 Ford Escape during a recall, the dealer-authorized repair inadvertently damaged the cruise control cables. Now, the Center for Auto Safety wants Ford to correct the mistake it made while it was correcting another mistake. Turns out, the first recall might actually result in another recall. More than 470,000 Ford Escapes were recalled because their accelerator cables were sticking to the pedal. And back in October of 2005, Ford sent a bulletin to dealers that warned them, if they didn't install the accelerator cable correctly, the cruise control cable could also be damaged. This was to replace the first bulletin Ford issued, which was made to replace the accelerator; the new one contained updated illustrations on how to fix the Escape without bungling up another component. Ford didn't do anything about the Escapes that had been repaired under the earlier, incomplete bulletin. And this, according to Clarence Ditlow, the Center's executive director, is a problem. "They should've done a second recall right then and there," Ditlow said. "That would've at least picked up the cables that had been damaged by the earlier repair." For Ford, this could get even uglier. The cruise control cable issue is already to blame for a tragedy: the death of a 17-year old girl in Arizona earlier this year. Her Escape had been repaired for the original recall, but it hadn't been fixed as per the newer bulletin. The investigation had found that the cruise control cable had kinked, jammed against the engine cover and left wide open. "It really is sad it took a 17-year-old's death to uncover this defect," said Ditlow. "It shouldn't have happened." Ford is investigating the cruise control cable issue now, but hasn't issued a recall to fix their earlier recall. Potentially 319,506 Escape owners would be affected by this cruise control snafu—besides the embarrassment of having to fix the cars again, Ford might have to pony up stiff NHTSA fines for not investigating the matter thoroughly enough the first time. For shade-tree mechanics, if you break something while fixing something else, it's charming; when you're a major auto manufacturer, it could lead to, according to the Center, "lethal consequences." Source: Automotive News