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Auto blogMon, 03 Jan 2011 09:32:00 EST
The process of shutting down the Mercury is complete. Ford officially made the decision to close its mid-level brand in June of 2010. In the months that followed, Ford offered its dealers money to stop selling the cars, with production shutting down in September. The last Mercury, a Mariner, rolled off the assembly line in the beginning of October and former spokesperson Jill Wagner said her good-byes to both the car and her job. Now the last piece of the brand has come down as dealers are removing any and all Mercury signage from their lots.
[Source: Detroit News]Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
According to a Bloomberg report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has upgraded an investigation into complaints of unintended acceleration lodged against Ford vehicles. The investigation began in June of 2010 when just three complaints had been received and it only concerned the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, but this was at a time when the phrase "unintended acceleration" made grown men go pale. With 49 additional complaints received since then, the investigation has been reclassified as an engineering analysis - the last phase before a recall - and it has been expanded to include the Lincoln MKZ, making for a total of "around 480,000" units affected between the three sedans from the 2008 to 2010 model years.
The ostensible cause is that floor mats are trapping the accelerator pedal, but according to a Ford statement at the time, the entrapment is due to owners placing the optional all-weather floor mats, or aftermarket floor mats, on top of the car's standard floor mats. NHTSA has backed up that assessment, pinning the blame on "unsecured or double stacked floor mats."
On the face of it, it would appear that NHTSA has upgraded the status not because of Ford's error, but owner error, and Ford has stated publicly that it is "disappointed" in NHTSA's move. On top of NHTSA still being skittish after that other unintended acceleration debacle, it could be seen to be taking its time investigating all of the variables: it's reported that Ford changed its accelerator pedal design in 2010, a "heel blocker" in the floorpan has been considered a potential culprit in how the floor mats could be trapping the pedal, some drivers have said the floor mats weren't anywhere near the pedal, and according to a report in the LA Times, in "a letter sent by Ford to NHTSA in August 2010, the automaker said it found three injuries and one fatality that 'may have resulted from the alleged defect.'"
Ford is recalling about 70,209 examples of the 2005-2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and the 2006-2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid because the cooling pumps for their hybrid systems could fail.
According to the company's defect notice, it's possible for the original "Motor Electronics Coolant (MEC) Pump" to wear out and fail, which would could cause the hybrid system to overheat. If this happens, the vehicle goes into a safety mode that takes away most or all of its power. However, braking and steering still operate normally. After cooling down, the affected models restart normally. The company says that it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this problem.
Ford will begin repairing the vehicles in late October, and dealers will be installing improved, brushless pumps on the affected models at no charge to owners. If drivers had their pumps fail before this recall, they can contact Ford for a possible reimbursement. Scroll down to read the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or download the full defect notice as a PDF, here.