Old Problem New Recall
The Ford Motor Company is issuing a recall for 4.5 million vehicles because of a faulty switch that can overheat and catch fire.
The action comes after an 18-month federal investigation that has led Ford to recall more than 14 million vehicles in eight recalls over a decade because of the potential for fires.
The cruise-control deactivation switches, made by Texas Instruments and sold for about $21, were installed in 16 million Ford vehicles. The cruise control switches present a fire hazard when brake fluid leaks onto the cruise control switch that remains hot even when the car is turned off, in park and in your garage.
The Detroit News, reports that Ford stopped using the switches in early 2003, but not before they were linked to at least 1,500 complaints and 550 vehicle fires.
At least one person died when the vehicle caught fire in their garage.
Al Gavegan Jr. 76, died August 14, 2007 when a fire started in his 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis parked in an attached garage in San Antonio, the Detroit News reports. Police reported it as an electrical malfunction in the engine compartment of the car.
You are advised to park your vehicle outside until it can be serviced.
Ford officials say they are recalling these vehicles to "reassure customers and eliminate any future concerns" although their data shows that the recalled vehicles do not pose a significant safety risk.
Consumers who own these vehicles can expect to see recall notices in the mail by the end of the month or contact Ford at 1-888-222-2751. But Joan Claybrook, formerly of Public Citizen, says the problem is that fewer than half of people who get those notices do anything about them.
“The Ford recall letters don’t sound urgent enough. It should have in the title and headline, ‘Safety Recall,’ ‘High Risk,’ or ‘Danger,’ she says to CBS News.
Ford tells CBS that that type of letter might scare consumers.
Beginning October 26th, consumers can bring their vehicles included in the recall to the dealer for an inspection and installation of a new fused wiring harness and ABS control connector.
The Windstar minivans, produced by Ford between 1995 and 2003, were not included in an earlier recall even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reportedly received 134 complaints of engine compartment fires in the Windstar, and Ford has reportedly received 285 similar complaints.
Today’s recall involves a total of approximately 4.5 million vehicles, including:
- 1995-2003 model year Ford Windstars
- 2000-2003 model year Ford Excursion diesels
- 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 Ford F-Super Duty diesels
- 1992-2003 Ford Econolines
- 1995-2002 Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers
- 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Ford Rangers
- And 1994 Ford F53 motorhomes
This is not a new problem.
Ford has already recalled 12 million vehicles associated with the fire hazard and speed control systems. ConsumerAffairs.com heard from one Ford Windstar owner in Rosewood Heights, Illinois who told them that her 1996 minivan caught fire when it was parked in her driveway next to her house. She had just driven the vehicle.
Her complaints joins 35 other consumers who said the Windstar fired occurred when the vehicle was parked. 72 consumers said the fire started when the Windstar was running. Some homeowners report their homes were damaged in the fires.
CBS News profiles one woman and shows a video used during litigation that shows exactly how easily the cruise control switch can easily come in contact with flammable brake fluid.
In 2005, Laura Voss has just parked her Ford 150 pickup truck in her Texas driveway. It ignited and took with it part of the front frame of the driveway.
She tells CBS, “If had been in the garage I wouldn’t have known until the garage was gone.”
Voss had received a recall letter just one week before her fire. #