DETROIT Ford Motor Co's bad safety streak with its 2013 Escape continued on Tuesday as the automaker issued two more recalls for the second most popular sport utility vehicle in the U.S. market.
There have now been seven recalls of the 2013 model of the Escape, a key SUV for Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker. The recalls affected 161,334 Escape SUVs globally, mostly in the United States, and addressed potential leaks that could cause a fire.
Escape sales in the United States were up 14 percent through October this year to 250,543 vehicles, making it the second-best selling Ford product behind the F-Series pickup trucks, and No. 2 to Honda Motor Co's CR-V in the SUV segment. The Escape was completely redesigned for the 2013 model year.
Ford is recalling the Escape SUVs from the 2013 model year equipped with 1.6-liter engines because the engine cylinder head may overheat and cause cracks that could allow oil to leak, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A Ford spokeswoman said there were 13 fires reported related to this issue, but no injuries.
Of the affected vehicles built at Ford's plant in Louisville, Kentucky, 139,228 are in the U.S. market, 18,917 in Canada and the rest in other markets, Ford said.
Within that Escape action, a total of 11,821 globally have been recalled because the engine compartment fuel line may have been installed improperly under a prior recall and could lead to a leak. The U.S. market has 9,469 of those SUVs, according to the NHTSA.
Ford had received warranty reports of fuel odor or leaks of Escape SUVs repaired in a previous recall, according to the NHTSA.
No fires or injuries related to this issue have been reported, the Ford spokeswoman said.
The number of recalls for the 2013 Escape SUV has risen to seven as the NHTSA counts Tuesday's actions as two separate recalls.
Under the larger recall, Ford will modify the engine shielding, cooling and control systems, according to NHTSA documents. In the smaller one, Ford dealers will inspect the engine compartment fuel line and replace it if necessary. Owners will be notified of the recalls by mail by January 23, 2014.
Ford is also recalling 7,329 Lincoln MKZ hybrid vehicles globally from model years 2013 and 2014 to reprogram the power train control module. They may not conform to U.S. requirements that the brake be depressed before the car can be shifted out of park. No accidents or injuries were reported relating to this issue.
In July 2012, Ford took the rare step of telling about 11,500 Escape owners to not drive their vehicles due to the risk of an engine fire. In that case, it offered customers loaner vehicles while their SUVs were inspected and repaired. Earlier that month, the company recalled 8,266 of the SUVs because of a carpeting flaw could reduce clearance for the brake pedal.
In September 2012, Ford recalled about 7,600 of the 2013 models to address potential fire issues. Two months later, it recalled another 73,300 Escapes as a software glitch in the cooling system raised the risk of a fire.
In March, Ford recalled about 5,600 Escapes as part of a larger recall to check the child lock on the rear left-hand door in several vehicles.
In late July, Ford paid a $17.4 million penalty to U.S. regulators for failing to quickly recall nearly 424,000 Ford Escape SUVs from model years 2001 to 2004 regarding stuck throttles when the gas pedal was fully or almost fully depressed. It was the largest possible penalty NHTSA, a unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation, can collect.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)