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Auto blogMon, 11 Mar 2013 14:17:00 EST
It's taken four years of study, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally closed the books on its investigation into rollaway accusations surrounding 1.56-million Ford SUV models.
The probe, which centered on the 2002-2005 Ford Explorer, 2002-2005 Mercury Mountaineer and 2003-2005 Lincoln Aviator, ends without the federal agency calling for a recall. According to The Detroit News, the investigation was closed due to a "low number of complaints" - NHTSA documented 180 such complaints that resulted in 14 crashes and six minor injuries, but the number of incidents have been slowing. The suspected defect rate for the trucks' automatic transmissions was found to be 4.4 per 100,000 units, and the brake-shift interlock mechanism failure rate was judged to be even lower at 3.4 per 100k.
There may be more steering woes for the Ford Crown Victoria. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary evaluation into the Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis from the 2004 to 2007 model years and the Mercury Marauder for the 2004 and 2005 model years because the steering shaft can jam. The issue could potentially affect an estimated 500,000 vehicles.
According to the regulator, there is a possibility that the driver's side heat shield for the exhaust manifold can rust, dislodge, and then wedge into the steering shaft. If this occurs, it leads to a situation where the driver can no longer control the car.
NHTSA has received five complaints of this happening, including one alleged case with an injury. In that situation, the car was driving onto the highway, lost control and rolled over. One occupant was hurt in the accident.
The rust issue in the rear wheel wells of 2004-2007 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans has finally led to a recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an investigation into the matter in 2011, said investigation being upgraded to an engineering analysis a year later while NHTSA tried to figure out how many model years should be included in the assessment.
Ford has decided to recall all of the 230,000 minivans potentially affected, namely those sold in salt-belt states and countries like Canada. The excess rust in the rear wheel wells was also able to prevent the third-row seats from locking to the floor of the minivan. To repair the problem, owners can take their minivans to dealers, and the dealers will place new panels in the wheel wells, replace the third-row seat mounting brackets and relocate the latches to an area away from any corrosion.
Ford says it will begin notifying owners during the last week of March.