All the new 2013 Ford Escape models built this year until the middle of July with its most fuel efficient engine are being recalled for engine fires. This is the second recall, thus far, of the best selling Ford SUV, which has just undergone its first major revision since its 2001 model year debut. The earlier recall was for accelerator and brake pedal interference caused by interior carpeting installed during assembly of more than 8,000 Escapes built at the Louisville plant.
Now almost 12,000 Escape crossover models with the direct injection 1.6-liter engine can have a split fuel line. At least one Escape has caught fire, which prompted the recall. Direct injection engines have highly pressurized fuel lines of course, increasing the risk of fire if gasoline is sprayed into a hot engine compartment.
Ford is advising owners not to drive their Escape until replacement parts are available and the defective fuel line is replaced. Under U.S. safety regulations, Ford dealers cannot sell or demonstrate the potentially defective SUVs. The Escapes on the road will have to be towed or flat-bedded for servicing when parts become available.
American Honda also recalled 166,000 model-year 2012 CR-V vehicles and approximately 6,200 model-year 2013 Acura ILX vehicles in the United States to replace both front door latches. The doors can open unexpectedly. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Both embarrassing recalls are on new and substantially revised models like the Escape. Honda recalled more vehicles in 2011 than any other automaker operating in the U.S. Honda has conducted at least 17 recalls so far during 2012.
In the latest NHTSA filing on the new Escape, Ford said that line between the body-mounted fuel line and the rear of the engine for the direct injection engine was improperly manufactured by an unnamed supplier.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association is also investigating Ford for unintended acceleration on 2001 through 2004 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs after receiving 99 reports of unintended acceleration from owners. At least one fatality and nine injures are alleged in multiple accidents.
NHTSA is concerned that Ford delayed reporting this problem well beyond the time allowed under law. Such delays in reporting safety defects have resulted in fines at Toyota, BMW and Volvo recently, after the fiasco of the Toyota and Lexus unintended acceleration cover-ups.