DETROIT – Ford is recalling nearly 485,000 Escape SUVs to fix sticking gas pedals that can cause crashes.
The worldwide recall covers Escapes from the 2001 through 2004 model years that are powered by 3-liter V-6 engines with cruise control.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 68 complaints, including 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death. A teenage girl died when an Escape crashed in Arizona in January.
It’s the third recall in just two weeks for the Escape, which was the top-selling SUV in the U.S. last month. A week ago Ford recalled 11,500 of the all-new 2013 models with 1.6-liter engines because the fuel lines can crack and leak gasoline, causing fires. A few days before that, it recalled 10,000 2013 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking.
On the older Escapes, which are completely different from the 2013 models, the cruise control cables can snag on the plastic cover atop the engine and cause the gas pedals to stick, Ford said. For the problem to happen, the pedals must be pushed to or near the floor, and the cruise control cables must have been bent or moved from their original position, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said. Cable positions can be changed when the SUVs are serviced, she noted.
“This is not a situation where the engine would accelerate or go into a wide-open state on its own,” she said.
Zwiebel said it will take a few weeks to distribute the parts. In the meantime, Escape owners can take their vehicles to dealers, who will disconnect the cruise control and eliminate the risk of the problem happening, she said.
On July 17, NHTSA announced that it was investigating complaints about sticky throttles on Escapes and Mazda Tributes. Tributes are identical vehicles built by Ford for Mazda. It was unclear whether Tributes would be recalled.