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Ford recalls nearly 1.4m US vehicles (Source: Financial Times)Back

Ford1Ford became the latest carmaker to issue a significant recall amid a current spate in the US when it said it was recalling nearly 1.4m vehicles, mostly from its popular sport utility vehicle ranges.

Ford said it was recalling around 915,200 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs built between 2008 and 2011 because a software fault could cause the steering to default to manual rather than power steering mode. It was recalling a further 195,500 Explorer SUVs because of a potential electrical fault that could disable their power steering.

The other recalls involved 196,600 Taurus cars and 82,500 vehicles of various types with potentially faulty floor mats, which if improperly installed could interfere with the vehicle’s pedals.

The move comes as a series of large carmakers have issued recalls amid increased concern over potential safety issues after General Motors botched the recall of 2.6m vehicles over faulty ignition switches.

GM alone has recalled 15m vehicles worldwide this year, including those with potentially faulty ignitions. Japan’s Toyota in April recalled 6.4m vehicles worldwide for a range of faults. Chrysler in April recalled 867,795 SUVs over potential brake problems.

However, none of the problems appears to be as serious as those involving GM’s faulty ignition switches, which appear to have killed at least 12 people. GM knew as long ago as 2001 that faults in the ignition switches could cause them to shift from “run” to “accessory” while being driven. The shift cut the vehicle’s engine, power braking and steering and disabled the airbags.

Ford said there were complaints of five crashes and six injuries potentially associated with the problems on the Escape and Mariner. There had been reports of 15 low-speed crashes and two minor injuries associated with the Explorer problems.

There had been 18 reports of fires relating to the Taurus fault, which could cause the vehicle’s licence plate lamp to catch fire. One person had been injured trying to put out a fire with his hand. There were two alleged crashes but no injuries associated with the floor mat problems.

Michelle Krebs, an analyst at autotrader.com, said every carmaker was looking through its product portfolio and checking for product safety and quality issues. That was partly because GM’s problems would distract attention from other manufacturers’ recalls, Ms Krebs said.

“They do not want to be in a situation like GM – or like Toyota was earlier – that they are caught dragging their feet,” Ms Krebs added.

Toyota in March announced a $1.2bn settlement with US prosecutors over its mishandling of safety problems with its Prius and other models in 2009 and 2010. In 2000, Ford faced controversy over the safety of tyres on the Explorer involving a series of deaths. Ford’s shares closed 1.4 per cent higher at $16.54 but slipped to $16.49 in after-hours training.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 06/06/2014