By on September 6, 2012

They say the third time is always a charm.

I don’t think this was what they meant.

As first reported by The Associated Press, a third recall has been issued for the Louisville, Kentucky-built Ford Escape, and the second to involve those with the 1.6L four-pot under the hood. Instead of fuel lines, however, improperly installed coolant plugs will turn your chariot of great escapes into a chariot of fire, the result of coolant leaking onto said engine after the plug falls out onto the highway.

The issue, according to Ford spokesperson Marcey Zweibel, first came about at one of their dealerships, where an employee driving an Escape experienced the conflagration first-hand; the fire was extinguished with no injuries reported.

In all, 7,600 Escapes with the English-built 1.6L engine fall under the recall, where owners can take their crossover into the nearest dealership for a free service appointment to correct the potentially fatal error.

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40 Comments on “Ford Recalls Fire Escape For a Third Time...”


  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    I fell into a burning ring of fire…

    Actually, this is the first time I hear about the new Escape having a 1.6l Ecoboost. Advertising via the “no such thing as bad publicity” strategy?

  • avatar
    tced2

    freeze plugs falling out?

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Pretty much reinforces the adage of not buying a first year model of any car. Although it’s nice that Ford is dealing with these problems quickly. Consumers are willing to give a company a break as long as they feel they aren’t being screwed.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Pretty looking CUV. Too bad about the faults.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The recall is for 7,600 vehicles that could potentially be effected. Only vehicles who had the plugs manually installed may have a problem, the ones which were installed through the automated process in the line are fine.

    Only about .4% of the vehicles recalled will actually have the improperly installed plugs, which works out to about 30 vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Why, for chrissakes, were the freeze plugs being installed manually when it could have been done by automated equipment? Were the plugs installed on a Friday/Monday, too? Are the plugs installed manually on other cars and, if so, why aren’t they popping out and catching fire on them?

      It makes one leery about any other parts that were ‘manually’ installed, as well as the service department process to change the plugs on the recall. I’m not sure I’d be real happy about the notion of a service department having to pull the engine to do anything, then put it back in.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Ford is really beginning to scare me. Where’s the f*cking quality control?

        Seems perhaps none of the “domestic” automakers were worth saving.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Well, at least VoF helps prove the theory that just because you’re a troll doesn’t mean you’d be banned from posting on TTAC, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        What a well-reasoned, thoughtful, and worthwhile post.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Volts on Fire,
        Launch a new, complex world product when you’re career has been centric to a stagnant, 1 culture, legacy product. Go from satisfying 1 program’s timeline to satisfying 4. Mix in a little misdirection from program management, program management prioritizing their domestic deadlines, incompentant purchasing department that can’t source global suppliers in a timely fashion and suppliers that don’t give a rats ass because you’ve essentially cost reduced their staff (they’re still relying on the barebones personnel they were cut down to in 2007/2008) and you get this.

        Welcome to the automotive new product launch team unless you’re Toyota and you own the majority stake of the majority of your supply chain (which even then you get quality glitches) and your reputation supercedes your f*** ups. Where honor makes the low supplier salaries and barbones staffing sting hurt so much less.

        The product obviously wasn’t on their ‘home line’ process when they went to retail sale. That risk was assessed by some very high up management and bought off on. I’m sure the peons will be pleased to learn about what they have to safeguard against next go around.

  • avatar
    John

    Points out the usefulness of carrying a fire extinguisher in your vehicle. Regular fire extinguisher powder corrodes aluminum, so best (but expensive) is a Halon extinguisher (don’t ask me how I know).

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Maybe Ford should start including Halon fire extinguishers as standard equipment. They can use the advertising caption, “Our vehicles still catch fire, but not as much as they used to!”.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        - We’re number 1 in reduction rate of fires–down 78% in the last two years!
        - But that’s because your competitors’ cars don’t catch fire.
        - But look at the numbers! Our competitors are at a pathetic 0%, which is way worse than our 78%!

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I keep seeing more and more of these new Escapes. The recalls don’t seem to be slowing sales down at all.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      That’s because a rational, intelligent person would take into consideration the fact that only 7,000 vehicles out of a line that traditionally does 200,000 a year, from a company that’s been VERY forth-coming and quick in the action they are taking, a) probably won’t affect them and b) if it does, they’ll be covered.

      Until accelerator pedals start becoming stuck on floor mats, causing off-duty State Patrol officers to inadvertantly be killed, I think we’re good.

      Oh…. wait.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        A rational person would actually avoid fire-prone vehicles and first year vehicles from a company who consistently has teething problems with their new products. Also – I don’t know that Ford has a history of being “VERY forth-coming” about safety issues.

        I’m sure sales of the new Escape are driven by more of an emotional response to the car/company than pure rational decision making.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’ve seen many people assert that small, turbocharged engines in big, heavy vehicles are just fine this time, because the automakers creating them have learned from their past mistakes and know what they’re doing this time. It is to laugh.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I can see your logic here, because turbocharged engines and heavy vehicles are both notoriously hard on freeze plugs.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I’m starting to buy your and Deadweight’s tired line. BOF legacy V8 FTW.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        What CJ and I’ve been saying for a while makes sense, if one really thinks about nothing more than basic, core realities.

        And it’s not Ford-specific.

        CAFE standards and emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe are forcing automakers to implement systems and technologies that aren’t proven in terms of reliability, as well as push the envelope of what can be safely and/or reliably done.

        Putting increasingly smaller (or is that decreasingly smaller?) motors in vehicles, many of which are only slightly less heavy, as heavy or much heavier than than their predecessors, simply puts higher stress on many components further up the system.

        This is true of normally aspirated or FI motors.

        I’m sure an honest and competent engineer who has experience in these matters would admit there’s no free lunch, that the laws of thermodynamics, relativity & physics in general haven’t changed, and that many of the emerging trends incorporating smaller motors, CV transmissions, new fuel injection technology and other “things” into modern vehicles will cause adverse consequences in terms of vehicle reliability.

        But I’m always receptive to rebuttals from those who claim that new materials and designs can mitigate or offset, wholly or partially, such loss of reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Deadweight –

        It’s probably fair to say that added complexity could lead to a greater chance of something going wrong.

        What you get for that added complexity more than makes up for whatever potential for problems might exist through, at least IMO. Turbocharging provides power when you want it, and fuel efficiency when you want it, so you don’t have to make the choice between the 4 cylinder and the V6 when you buy, you can take it easy for better mpg or stomp on it to get where you’re going quicker. Direct injection allows better fuel economy, greater performance, and the ability to use lower octane fuel at a given compression ratio. The benefits of these technologies are real, and are of value to many people buying vehicles. These are things that people want, not just things being forced on them by the government.

        Yes, there are still people who only care about simplicity and long term reliability, but they aren’t the majority of the auto buying public. If they were then power windows and automatic transmissions would have never become popular. I’m not going to keep a vehicle beyond 100,000 miles, and I’m not likely to keep one over 60,000 miles. What happens at 200,000 miles is completely irrelevant to any buying decision I might make.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        That same consumer mentality is why MFT sells so damned well. I couldn’t fathom sticking with a cell phone more than 3 years, let alone imbeded legacy tech in a vehicle that I drive into the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        What happens at 200,000 miles has everything to do with residual values. Marketing puppets that have been conditioned to need a new car every 2.5 years pay dearly for not buying cars that are still valuable to their subsequent owners.

        Turbo charged engines are only more efficient in the vacuum of mileage testing. If you aren’t going to use the power then you’ll get better mileage with a higher compression, naturally aspirated engine of the potential you need. If you are going to use their power, you’ll get better mileage with a higher compression, naturally aspirated engine of the potential that you need. Either choice will be more durable and require less maintenance. Direct injection may save you half a mile per gallon, but the money you save won’t pay for your first DI related carbon removal, let alone a HPFP failure off warranty or just replacing the injectors, which get to live the good life in combustion chambers.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Yet (part of) the buying public gobbles up GTDI and tech.

        I ragged on a Focus ST for a weekend and I did not come anywhere close to EPA fuel economy ratings. Truth be told, I didn’t give a damn. The car was a load of fun.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Residual value and resale matter to a degree, but you’re still talking 24,000-60,000 mile range where the majority of cars come off of lease or find their 2nd owner. Most buyers don’t keep a new car until the 100,000 mile mark, much less 200,000.

        Turbocharged engines have benefits beyond power per liter. Take the Escape for example, the 1.6 liter EcoBoost has about the same hp as the outgoing 2.5 liter NA 4 cylinder, but due to the turbo the torque peaks much earlier and stays flat through the majority of the rev range. The old 2.5 was noisy and slow to get going, the new 1.6 is quiet and always feels like there is plenty of power.

        As far as DI goes, you’re assuming that the engines will need carbon building cleaned off, if it even builds up at all on the newer motors. We’ll have to see what happens a few years down the road, but I have faith that the engineers have worked that issue out, and any buildup that does occur won’t effect the performance of the engine during the useful life of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        For all the talk of the “benefits” the new, and in large part, relatively untested (in terms of reliability/durability) technologies bring to the table in fuel savings (marginal, IMO, when a new Sonata with a conventional transmission makes 200 hp with a N/A 4 cylinder and gets nearly as good fuel economy as the next gen Accord with a CVT and GDI that makes less horsepower), the buyer with the CVT that breaks down or GDI motor that gets chalked is not going to be happy about their extra 1 to 3 mpg whether they’re under warranty (downtime) or not (major expense to fix or replace major components that will wipe out any marginal mpg savings dozens of times over instantly).

        I’ve never met unhappier vehicle owners than ones who can’t drive their car until they shell out major $$$ to replace/fix something such as the motor, transmission or any other major component, whether their vehicle has 10,000 or 100,000 miles on it.

        In the context of current events automotive, check out what Nissan CVT owners have been faced with (and on a relative scale, Nissan CVTs have been better than most reliability-wise – yikes!), or those owning Audi GDI motors.

        I’ll take a SWAG and say here and now that small displacement, turbocharged motors pulling 3,000+ lbs of vehicle (and even 3,800 lbs) plus occupants around are going to be an absolute boon for repair shops in the years ahead.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        If only everything could be as reliable and efficient as my small displacement, Garrett T-3 BMW-Magna-Steyr M21 TDI Lincoln Luxury Sedan. >150,000 miles and still drives better than any modern Lincoln. Gets better mpg than my any current production Lincoln vehicle (sans the hybrid).

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Nullo, you are correct about the point regarding complexity. Cars have become far more complex for two reasons. One, customers demand the features – high tech or otherwise – that increase complexity. Two, the standards and requirements that make today’s cars so good. safe and clean simply can’t be achived by vacuum diaphragms, mechanical stops, and gulp valves. As much as some lament the passing of the easy to fix, stone knives and bearskins approach to vehicle construction, the vast majority of consumers would be turned off by opening the driver’s door only to be greeted by the stench of evaporated fuel.

        However, Nullo, ignoring what happens after 100K or 15 years is foolish. Sure the original buyer may not appreciate that access hatch that allows changing the fuel pump without dropping the tank. But the subsequent owners who deal with such things will remember, and they are likely to become new car buyers at some point. Reputations for reliability start with new car purchases. Reputations for durability come later and both are critical for reputations that support long term value. As the owner of two old Fords (20 years and 18 years) I think Ford has not done a bad job in this regard, though I’m sure jimmyy will weigh in against that. Which matters because the established reputation will carry you through the occasional bad product. Just look at Honda and the new Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        This isn’t really Ford related, because they’ve clearly stuck their money on boosting everything, but what happened to small sixes?

        Are the real world benefits of going with the, what is it, 2.0 turbo’d four versus the tried and true NA 3.0 six that much for BMW that they’d go that route? I know the four puts out more torque, but real-world (if real world even matters anymore) aren’t they about the same?

        And GM’s 3.0 in the Equinox/Terrain – great engine on paper, but terrible EPA (and, IIRC, real world) numbers. Why is that? Was the lack of torque that big of a deal, and more to the point if 185-ish foot pounds out of the 2.4 four can move the Equinox/Terrain well enough to get mid or MAYBE high 20′s MPG on the highway, what’s wrong with 230 or whatever the 3.0 puts out? I understand it’s got more horse power than torque, but does it really have to wind up THAT much to make use of it?

        I’m not an engineer, so I won’t pretend to know if the fact that the Escape’s engine is boosted is the reason for these problems, or if it’s bad product planning around the engine that’s the problem, but if a company figures they need to at least offer a non-NA option, it can’t be THAT hard to pull off?

  • avatar
    Acd

    Too bad. I’m renting a 2013 Escape now and I really like it. It is a great size–not too big, not too small, it handles great, looks good, is comfortable and has a nicely trimmed inside. Ride is a little choppy but overall I’m as impressed with this Escape as I was unimpressed with a 2012 Explorer last week. The Explorer drove like it was the size of a department store, guzzled gas and every detail seemed to be intentionally made to piss me off. It was comfortable and did ride nice but I’ll take an Escape any day.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Which engine does it have? If it’s a rental, chances are good it’s the base ‘S’ with the lowly 2.5L normally aspirated engine.

      Ironically, the Escape ‘S’ is only offered to the public with a total of one (1) option: Sync. Maybe Ford should rethink their marketing strategy and start offering a few more options on the base ‘S’ Escape.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        There is no reason to buy the 2.5 over the 1.6 EB. The upgrade to the SE over the S is worth every penny. Personally, I wish the 2.5 hadn’t even made an appearance in the new Escape or ’13 Fusion.

        Even if you bought an Escape with the 1.6 on the first day it was offered and had to bring it in for all three recalls, the advantage in refinement and driveability it offers vs. the 2.5 would still make it a much better choice.

        I’m hoping that the Focus dumps the 2.0 NA I4 for the 1.6 EcoBoost, or at least offers it as an option sometime soon as well.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Considering that the 1.6L doesn’t get appreciably better fuel mileage than the 2.5L, and the latter may not be all that ‘unrefined or undriveable’ to some, the reason to get the 2.5L instead of the 1.6EB = $2400.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I think the point being the SE is a huge step up with a bunch of other options.

        I’m not even looking at the Escape, because it’s not quite as big as I’m looking for – so it’s either an Equinox, POSSIBLY an SRX if I can get enough incentives, or a new Santa Fe for me. $29k gets a Santa Fe as loaded as I personally need it to be.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        I don’t know. Besides the 1.6EB engine, above the S the SE gets Sync, aluminum wheels, better cloth on the seats, foglights, privacy glass, and chrome exhaust tips. That doesn’t seem to be a whole lot for the extra $2400.

        But I do agree that the SE really should have been the base Escape (and at the lower ‘S’ price, too). If Ford had done that, they’d absolutely murder the CR-V in sales.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    The 4.6 L ford with 2 valve head had four aluminum threads retaining the spark plug. A lot of them failed. I see some of their new V-6 and 4 cyl. engines have 16 threads on the plug. Of course they do not admit to poor engineering on the 4.6.

    • 0 avatar
      mik101

      Exactly… not to mention that direct injection in and of itself only results in about 3% BSFC improvement. The other benefit is the increased cooling from the fuel stratification. A turbo is nothing but variable displacement, increasing the amount of heat and stress in the smaller engine when the added power is used. In normal driving wear shouldn’t be all that increased, but there are also lots of folks that won’t do the maintenance. This is what is going to make it harder on subsequent owners. Unlike NM, I don’t have faith in the engineers to fix that, as after the warranty is over, the company would rather have you keep coming back for parts…

  • avatar
    Ion

    TTAC used to be above posting recall articles. Guess we make exceptions so long as its not a VAG product or a recall that will bring shame to the Toyoda family.


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