The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that they have launched an investigation that covers over 724,000 vehicles including the popular Ford Escape and Fusion over a concern that the engine may be prone to stalling. The Mercury Mariner and Milan, which are the mechanical twins to the Escape and Fusion, may also be included in this new investigation.
The fresh NHTSA investigation applies to the Ford Escape from the 2005 through 2012 model years, the Ford Fusion from 2011 and 2012, the Mercury Mariner from 2005 through 2011 and the Mercury Milan from 2011. In total, roughly 724,000 vehicles are included in this probe that could possibly result in a future recall.
The NHTSA opted to launch this investigation after their Office of Defects Investigation department received 123 complaints of the Ford Escape either stalling or surging repeatedly. Unfortunately, these 123 complaints included at least three accidents that were caused by the problem with one resulting injury. Ford has received over 1,400 complaints on their own about this problem while also servicing around 27,500 vehicles under warranty claims pertaining to this problem. These vehicles were diagnosed as having failing throttle bodies with diagnostic trouble codes indicating that the throttle body was either stuck open or stuck closed. The result of this problem is that the Escape goes into an engine protection mode referred to as “limp home” where engine speed is limited to just 900rpm. The vehicle can still be moved around but with the engine speed cut down to 800rpm, it is hard to maintain much speed.
Ford has offered an explanation of their own, pointing out that Escape models with electronic throttle bodies beginning with the 2009 model year and that vehicles built between June 22, 2009 and October 15, 2009 could have faulty circuit boards which were not manufactured properly. Ford issued a technical service bulletin addressing this problem in the past, explaining that those models built after October 15th 2009 have a revised circuit board built by Delphi that should prevent the stalling and surging issues. Should these issues be limited to those SUVs built during that period in 2009, the investigation could eventually be chopped down to exclude the 2005-2008 model year vehicles.
In addition to the reported issues with the Ford Escape, the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation department received 59 complaints of stalling issues with the 2010 and 2011 Ford Fusion. In the popular sedan, 36 of those issues occurred at speeds greater than 40mph and 14 of them explained that there were diagnostic codes involved with throttle body failure and limp home mode.