A stuck throttle on some Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape vehicles may result in very high speeds and difficulty slowing or stopping, potentially causing a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a recall of 2001-2006 and 2008 model year Mazda Tribute vehicles and 2001-2004 model year Ford Escape vehicles because inadequate clearance between the engine cover and the speed control cable connector may cause a stuck throttle when the accelerator pedal is fully or almost-fully depressed. This condition could result in high speeds and difficulty stopping, regardless of whether or not the cruise control is in use, and lead to a crash, serious injury or death.
The recall affects 217,000 2001-2006 and 2008 Tribute vehicles and 423,634 2001-2004 Escape vehicles. Ford manufactured the recalled Escape vehicles at the company’s Kansas City Assembly Plant (KCAP) and Ohio Assembly Plant (OHAP) from October 1999 through January 2004. The Tribute was also manufactured at the Kansas City Assembly Plant (KCAP) of Ford Motor Company between 2001 and 2008.
Both recalled models are equipped with 3.0L V6 engines and speed control.
On July 17, 2012, the NHTSA opened a defect investigation into reports of the throttle failing to return to idle upon release of the accelerator pedal in these vehicles. The investigation found 99 reports of the failure, including thirteen alleged crashes, nine injuries and one fatality. Sixty-eight reports were from owners of Ford Escapes and thirty-one reports from Mazda Tribute owners.
Ford said the Escape vehicles are safe to drive. However, the company is “advising owners that they can avoid this condition by not fully depressing or almost-fully depressing the accelerator pedal. Should drivers experience what they believe is a stuck throttle in this or any other vehicle, they should firmly and steadily apply the brakes without pumping the brake pedal, shift to neutral, steer the vehicle to a safe location and shut the engine off after the vehicle is safely stopped.”
Dealers will replace a fastener on the engine cover, raising the cover to supply the clearance for the speed control cable. They expect parts for the repair to become available in mid-August and until then, will disconnect the speed control cable as an interim remedy until the full repair can be completed. Customers who have their speed control cable disabled will not be able to use the cruise control until the full repair is complete.