The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is closing two investigations into steering and powertrain issues affecting more than 800,000 Ford vehicles, eliminating the need for recall expansions.
The first investigation looked into the possibility of an expansion of an August recall on 355,000 2005 through 2011 Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis sedans and Lincoln Town Cars, which could develop rust in the lower intermediate steering shaft that may cause a separation of the steering column lower bearing and a loss of steering. All of the vehicles covered in the recall were built in just two factories and sold in 22 “salt belt” states which use road salts to melt snow in the winter months, while an additional 386,000 built and sold in warmer climates were unaffected.
In Ford’s investigation earlier this year, all of the 22 complaints received from owners detailing steering separation as a result of rusting came from the salt belt region. 13 other reports of steering separation were also submitted in warmer regions, but none were a result of rusting or corrosion. As a result of their findings, only those sold in salt belt states were covered.
To settle the federal agency’s concerns, Ford has agreed to inspect the vehicles not included in the initial recall, though repairs will only be made if needed. In a release, the automaker said that their regional program will “inspect and repair the steering assemblies of those vehicles as necessary. The lower immediate shaft will be replaced only if it fails the inspection, the upper intermediate shaft will be repaired if it fails a Ford-specified measurement test. In the event the steering column lower bearings are found out of position, they will be re-seated and secured with a retaining clip.”
Also being closed is an investigation into software issues uncovered in the 2012 through 2014 Ford Focus Electric Vehicle. In October, a recall was announced on approximately 2,500 models as a result of a software glitch in the powertrain control module which could cause a total loss of powertrain torque. When torque is lost, drivers receive a message in the instrument panel saying “Stop safely now”, as steering and braking function remains.
“In total, there were 171 unique reports indicating loss of motive power while driving, and the predominant failure mode identified involved loss of powertrain torque,” said the NHTSA, which concluded that Ford’s service action and offered repairs were adequate in settling the safety threat for owners.
As an owner of a vehicle covered by a recall, responding quickly is essential. Without the repairs offered by your vehicle’s manufacturer, you could be exposing yourself to the threat of accidents, even in normal driving conditions.