The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, asking for a probe into almost 85,000 Mazda Tributes that are at risk of sudden acceleration due to defective recall repairs on cruise control cables. The models covered by this petition include 2002-04 Tributes.
The petition was filed only a few days after a similar filing that affected around 320,000 Ford Escapes (referred to as the twin of the Tribute in the petition), which are also from the 2002-04 model years. The companies had issued recalls of these SUVs in January 2005. The safety group said that it’s possible that the cruise control cables on the vehicles became damaged during the recall repairs that aimed to stop accelerator cables from being caught on the accelerator pedals.
The petition stated that if during the repairs, the cruise control cable guides get damaged, they may get jammed on the ridge in the engine cover and may lead to sudden unintended acceleration. Mazda said that it had to study the petition first before commenting further but that it will fully cooperate with the NHTSA. Ford said that it is currently investigating the matter.
The center is pointing the finger at Ford since the group claims the company knew about potential damages from the recall based on a bulletin dated October 2005 that was sent to dealers.
This bulletin had "updated illustrations" and included a warning about the correct procedures in replacing the accelerator cable" that were not the same as an earlier bulletin. The center asserted that Mazda failed to send out an updated repair bulletin to its dealers and that there’s no reason to think that Mazda’s dealers are more capable of preventing damage to the cruise control cable compared to Ford’s dealers.