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Ford is telling owners of one variant of the brand-new Ford Escape not to drive the SUVs until dealers can fix fuel lines that can crack and spill petrol, causing engine fires.
The company issued the unusual warning on Thursday and said it was recalling 2013 Escapes equipped with 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engines. Dealers will pick up the Escapes and drop off a loan car that customers can use until the repairs are finished. The company is hoping to ship parts and get all the SUVs repaired in the next two weeks.
Ford says it has three reports of fires: two at the factory and one while a customer was driving an Escape. No one has been injured.
The recall affects 11 500 Escapes in the US and Canada. Only 4800 have been sold to customers. The rest are on showroom floors and will be repaired before they are sold, spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said.
“We are obviously taking very quick action in the interest of our customers' safety,” she said.
Zwiebel said Escapes powered by other engines weren’t affected, nor were other Ford models with 1.6-litrr engines.
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. Problems often crop up when new vehicles are introduced, even though automakers have improved quality in recent years.
The new Escape is among Ford's top-selling vehicles. People bought 28 500 in June, up 28 percent from June 2011.
The Escapes in the latest recall were built at the company's Louisville, Kentucky, plant between early April and 11 July.
Ford says owners should call dealers to get the problem fixed. If parts aren't available, dealers will drop off loaner cars for use until the repairs can be made. Replacing the fuel lines should take about one hour, Zwiebel said.
It was safe to park the Escapes in your garage because the fires happened only while the vehicles are moving, she added.
Oder-model Escapes may also have safety problems. Government safety regulators are investigating complaints that throttles can stick on Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash. The probe, announced on Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, affects 730 000 SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years with V6 engines.
The safety agency received 99 complaints from owners of the SUVs alleging 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death caused by the problem. The throttles on the SUVs can fail to return to idle when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal, according to agency documents.
The older Escapes have not been recalled to fix the problem, although a recall is possible. - Sapa-AP