DETROIT, July 18 — US safety regulators said they are investigating possible throttle-control problems with an estimated 730,000 older model Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute small SUVs.
There have been 13 crashes reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration relating to the issue, which has caused one death and nine injuries, an NHTSA filing yesterday showed.
NHTSA said it would investigate whether the throttles remain open even after a driver has released the accelerator pedal.
An investigation by the regulator could lead to a recall for the two vehicles, which are from the model years 2001-2004.
The investigation was opened after consumer watchdog group The Centre for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA, saying that a recall of the Ford and Mazda vehicles in January 2005 led to repairs which may have damaged accelerator cables.
Ford, in October 2005, issued a recall update with instructions for dealers on how to remove the accelerator cable; without its proper removal, damage could result to the general speed control and cruise control, according to the consumer watchdog.
The Centre for Auto Safety claimed that a 2002 Ford Escape, involved in a January 2012 crash which killed the driver, had been repaired only in the wake of the January 2005 recall and not after the recall update of October 2005.
Mazda did not issue a recall update, NHTSA said.
“Some of the complaints, including a fatal crash incident that occurred in January 2012, allege that the failure was caused by interference between the speed control cable and the appearance cover at the throttle body cam,” NHTSA’s filing said. “Some of the complaints also allege that the failures may have been related to repairs performed as part of safety recalls initiated in 2004” of the Escape and Tribute models.
Ford and Mazda jointly developed the small SUVs involved in the NHTSA investigation. — Reuters