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Ford Motor (NYSE:F) is telling owners of the 1.6-liter 2013 model of Ford Escape, its best-selling SUV in the U.S., to stop driving the car immediately due to the risk of an engine fire, and is recalling the car. Ford said there was a possibility of an under-the-hood fire due to an engine compartment fuel line that could split.
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“Our intensive investigation and testing has identified the area of concern and we are moving as quickly as possible to repair vehicles for our customers,” Ray Nevi, assistant director of Ford’s automotive safety office, said in a statement. “In the meantime, it is extremely important that affected customers not ignore this recall and immediately contact their dealer.”
The automaker is recalling about 11,500 new vehicles of which about 4,800 were sold to customers, while most of the remaining ones are still with dealers. The company is delivering loaner vehicles to customers through dealers as temporary replacements. It is extremely unusual for an automaker to warn drivers to stop driving their vehicles immediately.
“This is not a routine action that we are taking but we do believe it is appropriate in these circumstances,” Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said.
Three incidents of under-the-hood fires were reported, with two occurring at the production plant as the cars were being taken from the assembly line to be shipped. No injuries have been reported, though one of the fires was reported by a consumer near Toronto. The vehicles in question were built at the company’s Louisville, Kentucky, plant from early April through July 11.
This is the second recall of the redesigned Escape, which went on sale in June. On Saturday, the company said it would recall more than 10,000 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking. On July 17, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 17 announced it was opening an investigation of about 730,000 older Escapes after receiving complaints about unintended acceleration.
The Escape was the best-selling SUV in the U.S. market in 2011, when 254,300 units were sold. None of those are affected by the fuel line issue, neither are 2013 cars that feature 2.0- and 2.5-liter engines.
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