NHTSA closes probe in engine power issues in Ford units

Article by Eugene Conan, on March 10, 2014

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed an investigation into possible defects in late-model Ford Motor Co. vehicles, which means a recall would not be necessary. NHTSA reviewed almost 12,000 complaints about drops in engine power in nearly 1.6 million vehicles, including the model year 2009-2013 Fusion and Escape, as well as the discontinued 2009-2013 Mercury Mariner and Mercury Milan.

Ford has commenced a customer satisfaction campaign to address issues with the engine throttle body in those units. Customers coming into dealerships could have the powertrain control module software reprogrammed to protect the throttle body, with the normal warranty being extended to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

NHTSA said Ford’s action was enough to satisfy its probe that commenced in February. NHTSA said that the closure of the investigation “does not constitute a finding that a safety-related defect does not exist."

In cars where the throttle body failed to function, the car displays a wrench-shaped light in the instrument cluster. The car will then go into "limp home mode," enabling it to be driven home or to a repair shop with engine speeds limited to 900 rpm. NHTSA received 1,147 complaints on the issue and Ford another 10,999 complaints.

The complaints reported one accident that caused an injury and 11 low-speed impacts in which no one was hurt. Investigators may have concluded that since drivers were still able to drive the car to a safe location, it was not severe enough to justify a recall. "Engine operation is maintained providing full power steering assist, brake assist and electrical functions," NHTSA's report says. "Additionally, drivers are alerted that a fault has been detected by the illumination of the wrench light."

Topics: ford, nhtsa

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