NHTSA probing complaints about some Ford Escapes

Consumers report engines overheat, stall while driving

Associated Press


Federal safety investigators are looking into complaints that engines on some Ford Escape vehicles can overheat and suddenly stall while being driven.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted on its website Friday that it has 40 complaints from consumers about stalling, including two alleging that the engines caught fire.

The investigation covers about 127,000 Escape small SUVs in the U.S. from the 2013 model year with 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Investigators will determine the cause of engine stalling, how often the problem happens, which vehicles are affected and whether a recall is warranted.

Ford said in a statement Friday it is cooperating with the investigation as it always does.

In one complaint involving a fire, an Escape owner in Dozier, Ala., reported on June 6, the engine stalled while being driven and after coasting to a gas station the SUV caught fire. There were no injuries.

In March 2017, Ford recalled more than 200,000 vehicles with the same-size engines because they can overheat and catch fire. But the 2013 Escape was not included.

Covered by the recall in North America are Escapes from the 2014 model year, 2014 and 2015 compact Fiesta STs, 2013 and 2014 Fusions and 2013-2015 Transit Connect vans. Ford conducted similar recalls in Europe and China.

Late last year, Ford said in documents it will repair any coolant leaks found in the 200,000 recalled vehicles. Repairs were detailed in company documents posted by NHTSA in December and came 10 months after the company said it would only install a coolant level sensor “with supporting hardware and software.”

The NHTSA investigation comes two days after an audit by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General found the agency failed to act quickly on a consumer complaint, and that could have delayed recalls of Takata air bag inflators in various models.

The Inspector General also found the agency’s process for monitoring car and truck recalls isn’t adequate. And the report released Wednesday said NHTSA isn’t verifying recall completion rates reported by automakers or making sure manufacturers file proper documents.

“Overall, inadequate controls and processes for verifying and collecting manufacturer-reported information have hindered NHTSA’s ability to oversee safety recall implementation,” the inspector general wrote.

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