U.S. regulators have upgraded a probe into complaints over loose floor mats that could jam accelerator pedals in the following models: Ford Motor Co. Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and Mercury Milan. The investigation was opened in May 2010 but after getting 52 complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided to deepen the probe.
On the NHTSA’s website, it revealed that the probe covers around 480,000 cars from model years 2008 to 2010. The agency added that accelerator pedals may be stuck down by "unsecured or double stacked floor mats." The agency clarified that there had been no reports of crashes or injuries. However, several complaints cited that drivers had to shift into neutral or turn off the engine to slow down.
Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said that the company is “disappointed” with the agency’s decision to upgrade the probe, especially since it’s related to improperly installed, unsecured or double stacked floor mats. But she reiterated that Ford will continue to cooperate with the NHTSA. The agency is receiving more reports of unintended acceleration cases, similar to reports that affected Toyota Motor Corp. in 2009 and 2010.
Toyota had to issue the recall of over 10 million cars and trucks throughout the world after complaints that led to congressional hearings. In an interview, Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for auto researcher Edmunds.com, said that this is definitely a “red flag” and that the agency takes this matter very seriously.
It can be recalled that Toyota paid record fines to NHTSA of $48.8 million in 2010 for its failure to timely issue a recall of models covered by the said defects. The agency continues to face customer lawsuits linked to these defects. Toyota had pointed the blame at floor mats that could jam pedals and accelerators that could stick in the down position. The results of NHTSA’s probe concurred with this conclusion.