Ford recalls new Escape again, citing fire risk

DETROIT, Sept 5 Wed Sep 5, 2012 2:04pm EDT

DETROIT, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co issued a third recall of its newly launched 2013 Escape sport utility vehicle on Wednesday, saying an improperly installed part could cause a fire in the engine compartment.

The recall affects about 7,600 Escapes equipped with a 1.6-liter engine and built between Oct. 5, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2012. In some of these SUVs, a component called a cup plug was not installed properly, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said.

A loose or dislodged plug would cause an immediate loss of engine coolant. If the glycol concentration in the coolant comes in contact with the hot engine components, it may catch fire.

The new Escape was redesigned for the 2013 model year. The latest recall is the second due to a fire risk.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, recalled the vehicle for the first time in July to correct a carpeting flaw that could cause braking problems.

Days later, Ford recalled the Escape again, citing a fuel line problem that could cause an engine fire. The issue forced Ford to take the rare step of telling owners to stop driving immediately.

Zwiebel said the cup plug defect is not related to the fuel line issue. Ford has determined there is a low likelihood of a plug dislodging and an "even lower likelihood" of a fire, she said. Replacement parts are available at dealerships now.

About 6,150 of the vehicles affected by the plug issue are in the United States and 1,300 are in Canada. No customer vehicles have caught fire, but in mid-August an Escape caught fire on a dealer lot in Tennessee.

The plugs at issue were manually installed at a Ford engine plant in England, Zwiebel said. Manual installation at that time was used as a back-up when the automated systems were having problems, something that Zwiebel said is no longer the case.

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