Auto blogMon, 25 Feb 2013
Owners of Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models, listen up. According to a report on Automotive News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into these four vehicles totaling an estimated 725,000 units. The investigation appears to center around a malfunctioning throttle body on non-hybrid models of the 2005-2012 Escape and 2011-2012 Fusion. With Mercury dying off after the 2011 model year, this probe will also apply to the 2005 through 2011 Mariner and the 2011 Milan. There has been some discussion around the Escape stalling issue for some time now, but this investigation appears to be larger in scope than before.
Though not a recall yet, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received 123 complaints of stalling or surging vehicles, while Ford itself has logged 1,472 complaints. The investigation report, which is posted below, seems to indicate that a faulty circuit board for the throttle body could cause the vehicle to go into limp mode, which, according to NHTSA, could cause complaints of both stalling and surging.
The Detroit News reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially closed its investigations into 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The separate probes found no issues that pose safety concerns. NHTSA began investigating certain Grand Cherokee SUVs over complaints that power steering hoses could detach during operation, thereby increasing the risk of a vehicle fire. Of the 24 reports of failure, none alleged smoke or fire in the engine bay, and Chrysler has since modified the power steering cooler assembly to reduce the likelihood of the failure.
Meanwhile, certain Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey vehicles garnered a government probe after receiving complaints that the models were equipped with faulty scissor jacks. The agency had received six reports of the jacks failing or causing injuries, including one incident that resulted in a fatality. But NHTSA says the jack failure rate is similar to those found in other vehicles. In those six cases, the government agency found the jacks were being used for something other than changing a tire, and investigators could not determine whether the emergency brake was set or the rear tires were properly chocked.
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.'"
A potential issue with the speed control cable collar has got the 2003-20003 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable under the spotlight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the collar breaks it can cause the throttle to be stuck open.
The issue is limited to vehicles with the 3.0-liter V6 Duratec. There are just 50 complaints so far out of 310,000 cars, but the NHTSA has begun an investigation into whether a recall should be issued.
It's hard to think back now, but the same man overseeing the design of the 2013 Ford Fusion also presided over a rather lackluster period in Ford design, highlighted by vehicles like the Five Hundred and Freestyle. With the redesigned Fusion receiving high praise, J Mays tells Automotive News that he feels vindicated from criticisms suggesting he's not a daring enough designer.
When Mays took over as lead of design in 1997, he admits to having quite an ego ("My head would barely fit through the door some days. I've long since gotten over myself") and the workload to match. With the Blue Oval's portfolio full of premium brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo at that point, along with the bread-and-butter Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, Mays certainly had quite the challenge.
It was in the mid-2000s that Mays took over just the premium brands, and took on the new title of Chief Creative Officer. At the time, Mays endured some criticism for looking backwards to retro styling, rather than setting a new standard for American car design - criticism that Mays says he is free from with the all-new Fusion.
When General Motors put down several of its brands in recent years, it also let loose thousands of brand-loyal customers who will eventually need another car.
R.L. Polk Associates estimates there are more than 18 million cars from 16 discontinued makes on the road today. Those "orphan owners" have sales-hungry competitors seeing dollar signs. GM is offering Saturn owners $1,000 cash toward a Chevy Cruze, Cadillac CTS or a GMC Acadia. Ford is giving its Mercury lease customers a chance to get out of their contracts with no early-termination penalty and offering to waive six remaining payments if they drive off in a Ford or Lincoln.
Edmunds.com research shows the efforts are paying off somewhat for GM, with 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 37 percent of Hummer owners and 31 percent of Saturn owners taking delivery of another GM-branded vehicle. But that leaves as much as 69 percent of owners going elsewhere. Ford, Honda and Toyota seem to be attracting many former GM owners.
'Tis the season... for road salt. And with that, comes rust. And what does rust bring? Well, for Ford and General Motors, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation. According to The Detroit News, NHTSA is looking into potential recalls issues with Chevrolet Express vans and Ford Freestar minivans.
The feds have received five complaints that rust has caused leaking fuel filler pipes on 2003 Express vans. Separately, seven complaints have been filed over excessive rust in the rear wheel wells of 2004 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans. The Freestar and Monterey went out of production in 2007. Neither issue has resulted in any crashes or injuries, according to the report.
Ford has announced a recall of certain Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan vehicles after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A total of 128,616 2010 and 2011 models equipped with steel wheels may have been manufactured with wheel studs that could crack and split over time. If that happens, the vehicle may experience a wheel separation.
According to The Detroit News, the company is aware of a total of 30 wheel separation incidents, one of which occurred on the front of the vehicle. Even so, no injuries have been reported as a result of the defect.
The problem apparently stems from the fact that the mounting pads on the vehicles' steel wheels may have been faulty from the factory. In addition, the wheel mounting face on rear disc brakes may not have been installed properly. Ford will inspect the rear disc face and replace them as necessary. In addition, the company will replace all of the vehicle's wheel studs free of charge. Head to the NHTSA website for more information, and click past the jump to view the full recall notice.
Never underestimate what you'll see on eBay Motors. Take this unique creation, for example. Near as we can tell, it's the same 2002 Mercury Marauder that was modified into a two-door convertible by Ford for the 2002 Chicago Auto Show. According to the seller, this car still boasts its Eaton supercharger bolted to a 4.6-liter V8 engine, and at the time of its debut, the engine was rated at a lofty 335 horsepower. We have a hard time believing that the extra ponies would do much to offset the weight of the additional frame stiffeners and top mechanism on the car, however.
The vehicle is currently offered for sale by a dealer in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, though the listing is mum on how the convertible managed to make its way from Ford's Windy City show stand into the seller's inventory. If you like what you see, the machine can be yours for the princely sum of $75,000 or best offer. Head over to eBay Motors to take a gander at the listing.
You read the title right, we're talking about the Mercury Beaver XR-7. No, Mercury never officially built a car called the beaver. This is the brainchild of upstate New Yorker Chip Beam, who owns and operates Beaver Energy, LLC. It runs on gases created by wood pellets fermented in a 2,400-degree furnace and fed to a supercharged Ford 4.6-liter V8.
By all accounts, it gets down the road just fine, and has pretty close to full power. The best part is, you can grow the fuel yourself and avoid patronizing big oil, if that's your thing. The only drawback that we can see to the Mercury Beaver XR-7 is the PVC pipe jungle occupying the space that would be the trunk under normal circumstances.
Still, if you're willing to smell like a mountain man and look like a bad Back to the Future knockoff, this ride is right up your alley. Click past the jump to see Translogic's take on this modified Merc.