It has been quite a week at the Ford Motor Co. In the last seven days, the automaker has added more than 700,000 vehicles to its ongoing door latch recall, while opening new probes into three other problems. The latter three campaigns brought the total number of vehicles recalled by the number two domestic automaker to nearly 1.3 million.
Interestingly, the increased recall action occurred during the week that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Mark Rosekind was in Detroit meeting with automakers and touring facilities. Rosekind flew to the Motor City in the middle of the week to become better acquainted with manufacturers, while also learning about various safety issues.
Rosekind’s avowed aim is to establish a culture of safety in the auto industry and to increase the urgency with which the auto industry responds to safety issues. The chief highway safety regulator promised a series of safety summits later this year to address all aspects of the recall system as the agency looks for ways to improve it.
Meantime, Rosekind’s meetings included time with Ford CEO Mark Fields where the two likely discussed the ongoing recalls as well as increased interaction between the federal agency and the industry. The increase in the number of vehicles affected by the door latch recall was due to the direct talks between Ford and Rosekind. The highway safety regulator noted that he had called the executive in charge of the door latch recall and had discussed the campaign with him. As a result, the automaker added 701,906 vehicles to the door latch probe.
The probe covers the following models:
- 2011-14 Ford Fiestas
- 2014 Lincoln MKZs
- 2013-14 Ford Fusions
The manufacturing sites involved include one in Mexico and second in Michigan.
In the recall, it is possible the door latch pawl spring tab could fail and keep a door from latching totally. The result is that doors can swing open while the vehicle is in motion, possibly striking other objects or people. Three injuries have been reported. The first involved a parking lot accident where one vehicle, with an open door, hit a second. The second and third accidents involved doors bouncing back on those trying to close them.
Meantime, Ford initiated a second set of recalls involving a total of 592,600 vehicles for potential problems. The problems range from power steering gear to fuel pump and parking lamp issues.
The largest of the three recalls, 520,000 vehicles, involved a potential issue with the power steering gear that could leave the power-assist unavailable. Affecting primarily Rust Belt states, Ford noted the problem was caused by corroding power steering bolts. The metal used by the bolt manufacturer corrodes on exposure to winter salt and can cause the power steering unit to fail.
The automaker said that the vehicles affected, 2013-15 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ and 2015 Ford Edge, will remain steerable, however, the steering will be very heavy. The problem is that the steering might require so much effort that some drivers will not be able to maneuver their vehicles.
The states affected are:
- New York
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
Meantime, 50,000 2014 Focus, Edge, Escape and Transit Connect vans and 2014-15 Fiestas, may have issues that could lead to fuel pump failure. And, another 22,600 Lincoln MKZs may have parking lights that are too bright and which require new parking lamp control software to bring them into compliance with federal rules.