Door Latches May Not Hold On March 29, 2017, Ford Motor Co. announced two recalls – one involving a fire risk, the other for a door latch problem.
The recalls include about 440,000 cars in North America, and Ford expects to spend around $295 million to fix the issues, Law360 reports.
The first recall includes 211,000 2014 model year Ford Fiestas, 2013-14 Ford Fusions and 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ cars that may have faulty door latches. The doors may not properly close. Ford says this expands on an earlier recall of 2.3 million vehicles over this issue. Ford said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue, but if a door opens while the car is moving, there is a risk of accidents and injuries.
Parker Waichman notes that defects like these can pose serious risks to drivers of the recalled Fords and to their passengers. If a door opens while a vehicle is moving, the driver may have trouble controlling the car. The open door could hit another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a guardrail, for instance, and cause injuries or damage. A vehicle fire can be extremely dangerous, especially in a moving vehicle. If the fire spreads to the passenger compartment, the driver and passengers could suffer serious burns. Owners can suffer economic losses because of a recall and the vehicle’s resale value may drop.
Under-Hood Fire Risk
The second recall includes 230,000 cars at risk for under-hood fires, Law360 reports. The recalled vehicles are the Ford Escape, Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Fusion and Ford Transit Connects from model years 2013 to 2015 with 1.6-liter GTDI engines. A lack of coolant circulation could cause an engine to overheat and crack the cylinder head. In a statement about the recall, Ford said, “A cracked cylinder head can result in a pressurized oil leak. Oil that comes into contact with a hot engine surface increases the risk of a fire in the engine compartment.”
Ford has received 29 reports of vehicle fires in the U.S. and Canada, though to date no injuries have been reported.
Ford will mail instructions to customers on how to check and refill coolant. Ford said owners “can continue to drive their vehicles, but should see their dealer if their vehicle exhibits a coolant leak, overheating or frequently needs coolant added.” Ford said dealers would install a coolant level sensor with supporting hardware and software at no charge to the customer, when service kits become available.
The estimated cost of the two recalls was revealed in a filing the automaker made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In September, Ford doubled the size of the door latch recall, adding about 1.5 million cars, bringing the total to more than 2.3 million. Dealers will replace all four side door latches with a more robust door latch for free, Law360 reports.
The original fire recall was announced in August, and at that time applied only to Ford vehicles in 16 states that generally have higher temperatures. The recall stated included Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.
Door Latch Problems Date Back to 2015
Ford vehicles have had door latch problems since 2015, when the company recalled nearly 3.3 million vehicles over issues with faulty pawl spring tabs. The pawl is a spring-loaded finger that engages the teeth on a gear in the door. Ford initiated the first recalls came in January 2015 with 205,000 Ford Taurus sedans. A second recall, in March 2015, added 213,000 Ford Explorer and Police Interceptor SUVs.
Another recall came in April 2015, covering 390,000 model year 2011 to 2014 Ford Fiestas and 2013 to 2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles. One hundred fifty-six more vehicles were added to the recall one week later.
In January 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation after receiving almost 75 complaints about faulty door latches on 2012 and 2013 Ford Fiestas. NHTSA closed the investigation in October 2016 after determining that the recall addressed the problems with the door latches.