Ford Motor Co.’s new Escape crossover has been the subject of a series of recalls since its mid-year debut – and now faces another as the automaker warns versions of the popular CUV equipped with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine could overheat and catch fire.
The problem also impacts the 2013 Ford Fusion. In all, about 89,000 of the two models – among Ford’s best-selling nameplates – are affected.
The latest recall could prove a setback not just for the 2013 Fusion and Escape models but for Ford itself. The maker has been hammered in recent months in a series of customer satisfaction, quality and reliability surveys.
According to Ford, the problem involves vehicles equipped only with the 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine, an optional powertrain designed to deliver both better mileage and improved performance. Ford says the engine can overheat and leak coolant. That, in turn, could catch fire if it comes into contact with hot engine components such as the exhaust pipes.“We have identified an issue and are taking actions in the best interest of our customers,” said Steve Kenner, director of Ford’s automotive safety office. “It is important that affected customers not ignore this recall and contact their dealer as soon as possible. While we recognize the inconvenience recalls cause our customers, we are taking these actions on their behalf to help ensure their safety.”
So far, the maker confirmed reports of 12 fires involving the Escape and one with the Fusion.
The maker says motorists appear to get a warning when the problem develops, a message flashing on the instrument cluster advising either, “Engine Power Reduced to Lower Temps” or “Engine over temp, stop safely.” Red warning lights and chimes may also signal a problem. Ford says motorists should take the problem seriously and pull over immediately in the event of such a warning.
A total of 73,320 of the 2013 Ford Escape models are covered by the recall, along with 15,833 2013 Ford Fusion sedans. About 80,000 of the affected vehicles were sold in the U.S.
The maker says it is looking for a fix for the problem and plans to offer loaners to owners until repairs can be made.
The announcement of the recall comes less than a week after the 2013 Ford Fusion was named Green Car of the Year during a ceremony at the LA Auto Show. Jurors hailed the new Ford sedan for offering a broad range of high-mileage, low-emission powertrain options that include two hybrids and two different EcoBoost choices.
The problem could pose a significant issue for Ford, especially if it requires the maker to halt production and sales of the 1.6-liter EcoBoost for an extended period of time.
The latest recall could further tarnish the reputation of the Ford Escape, one of the industry’s biggest sellers in the compact crossover segment. The 2013 model migrated to a car-based platform from a traditional body-on-frame, truck-like design.
The Escape also has been the subject of numerous recalls since its July introduction. Weeks after its debut the crossover was the subject of a service action due to a potential fuel line leak. The situation was serious enough for Ford to advise owners to park the vehicle and let dealers tow it in for repairs. A subsequent recall also involved a potential coolant leak – in this case tracked to a defective coolant plug.
Ford says that it will make repairs to the affected vehicles at no charge to owners.