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Auto blogFri, 11 Jul 2014 18:29:00 EST
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 Detroit News is reporting that Ford will recall some 370,000 Crown Victoria (pictured), Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car vehicles from model years 2005 through 2011, for an issue regarding the lower intermediate steering shaft. 355,000 of the vehicles in question were sold in the US, with the other 15,000 sold in Canada.
The report indicates that corrosion of the lower intermediate steering shaft could cause a "loss of steering," presumably because of a partial or complete failure of the part. The report points out the dealers will inspect and replace the offending steering component for recalled cars, and may also secure a lower steering column bearing and replace the upper intermediate steering shaft as needed. The company is unaware of any reports of the faulty part causing any accidents or injuries.
Ford helpfully lists states in which corrosion is more likely to have taken place, mostly in the Snow Belt, as you might guess. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia are listed.
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.'"