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Ford Gets Record $17.3 Million Fine For Delaying Recall

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On: Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 3:54PM | By: Teddy Field

Ford Gets Record $17.3 Million Fine For Delaying Recall

In August of last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered Ford to recall 485,000 of the 2001-2004 Ford Escapes, equipped with the 3.0L V6 and cruise control. An earlier recall had prompted Ford to issue dealers a repair procedure that wound up causing the throttle cable to potentially become stuck, resulting in unintended acceleration. Ford became aware of this problem in October of 2005, and updated the repair procedure. It did not, however, recall the 320,000 Escapes that had already been repaired using the bad procedure. As a result, NHTSA received 99 unintended acceleration complaints, including 13 reported crashes and nine injuries. Although that seems about average for a typical recall, a 17-year-old in Arizona also lost his life at the wheel of a 2002 Ford Escape that had been repaired with the bad procedure.

Since Ford failed to notify owners of the unintended acceleration threat, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slapped the Ford Motor Company with a record $17.35 million dollar fine. Toyota is the only other automaker to have received such a hefty fine. Which was ironically levied for a badly delayed recall on 2010 Lexus RX350s, with a similarly sticking gas pedal.

Ford's problem stems from a fix that relocated the cruise control cable connector too close to the engine cover. This could cause the throttle cable to become stuck when the gas pedal is fully depressed, or almost-fully depressed, like when you're passing someone. And the cruise control doesn't have to be in use for this to occur.

Ford agreed to settle the case on July 26, and simply paid the fine without admitting guilt. Ford did issue a statement that read: "We take the safety of our customers seriously and continuously evaluate our processes for improvements. While we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government." But the settlement move was probably designed to save the company several hundred million in class-action suits.


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