Defect Could Cause Car Fire

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 @ 07:07 PM gHale

A manufacturing problem at a company that makes fuel lines forced Ford to recall thousands of its Escape small SUVs and tell owners to stop driving them right away.

Ford made the recall last week, saying the defect could cause an engine fire.

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Fuel lines were “mechanically scored” or damaged on the outside during manufacturing, Ford said in documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The lines, made by a TI Group Automotive Systems plant in Indiana, can split when pushed over a connector fitting, and leaking fuel could ignite.

The recall involved 11,500 Escapes, of which 4,800 went out to customers; the rest are still on dealer lots.

Ford urged customers in the U.S. and Canada not to drive the SUVs and to contact dealers, who would pick up the Escape and drop off a loaner car. The problem affects only 2013 Escapes equipped with 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines.

TI Automotive said it is “working with Ford to identify root cause and resolve the issue,” said company spokesman Frank Buscemi.

The problem first came to light June 9 when a newly built Escape caught fire while a Ford worker was driving it from the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky to a holding lot for shipping, the documents said. After two more fires — one on June 18 involving an Escape driven by a customer in Canada — Ford engineers determined the problem involved the engine compartment fuel line.

The company approved the recall on July 16, according to the documents.

No one was hurt in any of the three fires, the documents said.

“Vehicles are not to be driven until this repair has been completed,” Ford said in a letter dated Thursday telling dealers how to handle the problem.

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