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Ford recalls some 2013 Escapes, says: Stop driving them

The 11,500 recalled Escape SUVs have a fuel line problem that could cause a fire if not repaired, Ford says. Separately, Honda recalls 166,000 CR-Vs and 6,200 Acura ILX sedans to fix a door issue.

July 20, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
  • Ford is recalling some of its new Escape crossovers because a fuel line problem might start an engine compartment fire.
Ford is recalling some of its new Escape crossovers because a fuel line problem… (Ford Motor Co. )

In an unusual move associated with a recall,Ford Motor Co.told owners of one version of the new redesigned Escape sport-utility vehicle to stop driving it because it might catch on fire. Dealers will go to the homes of owners, provide a loaner and retrieve the Escape for repairs.

Ford needs to replace a fuel line in the vehicles. The automaker said the line could split and leak gasoline, which could ignite. The recall applies to 2013 model year Escapes with the 1.6-liter engine and built through July 11. Many of the 11,500 or so affected cars are still on dealer lots. Ford said Thursday that other Escape models are not at risk.

"Gasoline leaks are nothing to mess around with. And if the gas is leaking under the hood, there's even more danger because of all the heat sources that are under there," said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at auto information company Edmunds.com.

This the second recall in a week for the new SUV, which is one of the nation's bestselling vehicles. Ford sold 28,500 Escapes in June, making it the automaker's second-best seller, after the F-series pickup truck. Overall, it was the sixth-bestselling vehicle in America last month and the bestselling crossover, beating out Honda's newly redesigned 2013 CR-V.

Analysts said a recall right at the start of a model launch could be especially damaging to a vehicle's reputation.

"What any manufacturer never wants to see is quality and safety issues with a key product in their portfolio. It's tough to recover from that when you only have one shot to launch a product successfully," said Larry Dominique, an executive vice president of auto price information company TrueCar.

Last week, Ford said it would recall about 10,000 Escapes because of mispositioned carpet padding in the center console trim panel. The padding can cause the driver to hit the side of the brake pedal when moving his or her foot from the accelerator, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That could increase stopping distances and the risk of a crash, the agency said.

Ford put the new Escape on sale in June. The previous version was one of the automaker's top-selling vehicles.

No injuries have been reported from the fuel line problem, but there have been at least three fires. One was experienced by a customer driving an Escape; the other two were at the factory in Louisville, Ky. Ford said there is no danger of fire as long as the vehicle's engine is not running.

"We are moving as quickly as possible to repair vehicles for our customers," said Ray Nevi, assistant director of the Ford Automotive Safety Office. "In the meantime, it is extremely important that affected customers not ignore this recall and immediately contact their dealer."

Getting owners to have their recalled vehicles repaired is a concern for the auto industry.

An Edmunds.com analysis of twoGeneral Motors Co.recalls showed a "completion rate" of just 52.5%, which means nearly half the recalled vehicles were not brought in for repair. GM says its recalls generally reach a completion rate of about 70%. Other automakers, including Ford, declined to provide Edmunds.com with completion rates for their recalls when asked this year.

Also Thursday,Honda Motor Co.said it will recall about 166,000 CR-V sport utility vehicles from the 2012 model year and about 6,200 Acura ILX sedans from the 2013 model year to replace both front-door latches and, in some of the CR-Vs, the interior front-door handles.

This will prevent an odd sequence of events that could cause a door to open suddenly, it said.

Honda said that in an instance when the driver's or front passenger's inner door handle and either the manual or power door lock are operated at the same time, the inner door handle's release cable can become partially disengaged. If this happens, the door might not latch when closed. It also might latch and close, but then open when the door locks are operated. Either way, the door might open unexpectedly.

No accidents or injuries have been reported related to this issue.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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