(Corrects paragraph 2 to show "fourth recall" instead of fifth)
DETROIT Dec 3 Ford Motor Co is still
working on a remedy for a defect that raises the risk of an
engine fire in almost 90,000 just-launched Escape and Fusion
models, an executive at the second-largest U.S. automaker said
This is the fourth recall of the 2013 Escape crossover since
July. The Escape and the 2013 Fusion sedan are considered Ford's
two most critical launches this year.
The problem, which affects models equipped with the
turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, has triggered nine fires in
vehicles owned by customers, Ford said in a document filed with
U.S. safety regulators on Friday.
"We are working on the fix for the vehicles," said Ken
Czubay, vice president of Ford's U.S. sales, marketing and
service, told reporters and analysts on Monday.
"It's because of an overheating situation, which can result
in certain circumstances in an engine fire, but we have had very
few of those," he said during a call about November auto sales.
The 1.6-liter engine can overheat, leading to a fluid leak.
If the fluid contacts the vehicle's hot exhaust system, this may
cause a fire, Ford said in documents filed with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Nov. 30.
The latest recall involves 73,320 Escapes and 15,833
The Escape has been recalled twice before for problems with
its 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Two other recalls, both
issued in early July, involved potentially defective brakes and
The Escape and Fusion, both completely redesigned for model
year 2013, compete in segments that account for one of three
auto sales to U.S. consumers, Ford has said. It is relying on
the new models to build its U.S. market share this year.
Ford has not yet seen any "derogatory showroom traffic" on
the vehicles as a result of the recalls, Czubay said. He said
Ford is taking "all measures" to handle the recalls smoothly.
Escape sales dropped 4 percent in November, while total Ford
vehicle sales rose 6.5 percent.
"Obviously, any recall doesn't help," TrueCar.com analyst
Jesse Toprak said. "The way a manufacturer handles the recall
makes a big difference and Ford has learned a lot of lessons, so
have other automakers, to be extremely proactive on all issues."
Most of the recalled models are in the United States, Ford
said. There have been no injuries stemming from the defect and
Ford is loaning owners a car for free while it looks for a fix.
In July, Ford told owners to stop driving the 2013 Escape,
citing a manufacturing problem that damaged the fuel lines. Ford
recalled the model again in September because of an improperly
installed engine cup plug.
The Escape models affected by last week's recall were built
at the Louisville Assembly Plant from October 2011 to November
2012. The Fusion sedans were built this year at Hermosillo
Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico from February through
According to the documents, Ford got word that a 2013 Escape
caught fire in Florida in early September. Ford found that the
engine was being operated without an engine oil dipstick,
causing engine oil to spill over and touch the exhaust system.
From late September until late November, Ford received eight
reports of vehicle fires, including one of a fire in a Fusion
sedan. But Ford could not assess the cause of the fire.
Additionally, Ford also reported two previously undisclosed
fire reports in vehicles that were not yet sold to customers.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Additional reporting by Bernie
Woodall and Ben Klayman; Editing by Andrew Hay)