Ford Stung by Sales Dip and a Major Recall; Chrysler Hit by Recall, Too

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Ford Motors, already reeling from another recall affecting nearly 1 million vehicles, was dealt a second whammy as it watched its sales performance falter in September. Ford was the only major automaker to perform poorly in September as its sales dipped 2.4 percent from last year (180,000 versus 221,000). As a result, the automaker’s share of the market slipped 1.7 percent to 14.5 percent. A further result of the poor sales performance was a loss of faith in the financial markets. The automaker saw its stock value drop by more than two dollars as investors pulled their support out of the corporation.

Ford was not the only major automaker to announce a major recall. Chrysler has also recalled a total of 550,000 vehicles for fuel pump and ignition problems.

Ford’s most recent recall of 850, 050 vehicles pushed its yearly total to just shy of 4 million vehicles. The recall affects two of its most popular car lines: Fusion and Focus.

Ford issued its latest recall after the company was notified that the restraint control module, the heart of the airbag system, could short out and keep the front and side airbags from deploying. If the restraint control module fails, the airbag warning light on your car’s display will light and stay lighted. No known injuries have been reported as a result of this fault, according to reports in the New York Times.

For the Ford Fusion, Focus, Escape, C-MAX hybrids and Lincoln MKZ, the following numbers of vehicles are involved:

  • in the United States, about 740,000 vehicles;
  • in Canada, 82,000 vehicles;
  • in Mexico, 20,000 vehicles.

For the year, Ford has announced several recalls affecting a total of 3.9 million vehicles. While the number of recalls is high this year, it is dwarfed by the more than 30 million vehicles that have been recalled by General Motors, one of Ford’s major market rivals. GM was also hit with the largest fine ever issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the Department of Transportation.

About the only good news coming out of Ford was its announcement of the delivery date of its all-new F-series of pickups. The new-generation pickups are lighter at 700 pounds, and more fuel-efficient at, an average of 22 to 28 mpg. Their styling is also quite new and refreshing.

Meanwhile, Chrysler, whose sales performance was strong in September – up about 20 percent – also recalled 550,000 vehicles for ignition and fuel-pump problems. The automaker announced the recall of 350,000 2008 Dodge Chargers, Dodge Magnums, Chrysler 300s, and Jeep Grand Cherokees and Commanders for ignition problems.

So far, three people have been reported injured as a result of this problem. At issue is the ignition. According to various news outlets, the ignition key in 2008 models can stick or move while the vehicle is in motion. As a result, the engine may shutdown unexpectedly causing problems for the driver.

A driver in one of the affected vehicles will be able to start the vehicle normally, but the ignition key will jump to either the accessory position or off. In either case, the engine will shutdown unexpectedly. In this situation, the engine, wipers and defroster will not work, while the airbag system will continue to work as the airbags are powered by a separate line.

This ignition recall is similar to an earlier one affecting 890,000 2007 to 2010 Chrysler vehicles. In a second recall, the automaker is recalling 230,760 2011 Jeep Cherokees and Dodge Durangos due to a potential problem with the fuel pump.

The issue involves the fuel pump relay, located in the integrated power module (IPM). The fuel pump relay in the IPM can fail, causing fuel flow to stop. If the failure occurs while the vehicle is parked, the driver will be unable to start the vehicle. If it occurs in traffic, the vehicle will unexpectedly stall due to fuel starvation.

The vehicles affected by the recall include 183,723 located in the United States, 15,898 located in Canada, 7,126 located in Mexico, and 19,013 located outside the US.

Meanwhile, General Motors continues to feel the more recall hits on its corporate hull as the automaker has just issued three more recalls covering 60,575 vehicles, including 46,863 2008 to 2008 Pontiac G8s and 2011-2013 Chevrolet Caprice models. The recall includes police patrol car models. Also, the automaker has halted shipping the 2015 Colorado until this problem is settled. The Colorado models round out the ignition recalls.

This recall covers an ignition problem discovered by Holden of Australia that uses a similar ignition system in its vehicles. It was the first time an offshore model has also been affected by the recalls.

The location of the ignition switch is an issue in this recall. It is possible for a driver’s knee to impact the key, causing it to jump from the “on” position into the accessory or “acc” slot. The result is a sudden engine shutdown which can cause problems in traffic or on a high-speed roadway.

To date, the automaker has not heard of any problems resulting from this issue. Holden has solved this problem using a fixed-blade key. Meantime, another 10,005 2004-2007 Cadillac STS-V and CTS-V have been recalled due to a fuel pump problem. In this recall, the fuel pump module terminal can overheat and melt.

Finally, 304 2013 Chevrolet Sonics have been recalled for an issue involving a steering wheel screw and the airbag installation. If the screw loosens the airbag will fail to deploy.

To date, GM has issued 74 total recalls for the year that affect 30 million vehicles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Marc Stern has spent more than 40 years in and around cars. His work has included answering motorist questions, motor vehicle reviews and evaluation and writing dealers, consumer and industry news pieces. In addition, Mr. Stern has contributed to well-known automotive publications including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek and Old Cars Weekly, among others.

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