The Wheels Are Coming Off At Ford - Steering Wheels, That Is
Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 1,378,637 vehicles for a very concerning problem: steering wheels that may come loose and detach from the steering column while the car is underway.
It’s a problem first investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year, but Wednesday’s recall spreads a wider net. Affected vehicles include Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans built in the U.S. and Mexico over five model years. According to Ford, the problem stems from a key bolt that just can’t stay married to the threads.
“In affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt may not maintain torque, allowing the bolt to loosen over time, and if not serviced, a steering wheel could potentially detach and lead to a loss of steering control and increased risk of a crash,” the automaker said in a statement.
Ford claims it is aware of two accidents and one “alleged” injury related to the issue.
When it first began looking into the steering wheel problem last October, the NHTSA focused on 2014-2016 Fusions — a group totalling 841,000 cars. Ford’s recall adds half a million more and broadens the scope to newer models, as well as the Fusion’s Lincoln MKX sibling. Some 62,479 of the affected vehicles were sold in Canada, another 14,172 went to Mexico. The rest are America’s problem.
In total, the recall covers 2014-2017 Fusions built at Flat Rock Assembly from August 6, 2013 to February 29, 2016, 2014-2014 Fusions built at Mexico’s Hermosillo Assembly from July 25, 2013 to March 5, 2018 (nine days ago), and 2014-2018 MKZs built at Hermosilo during the same time frame.
“Dealers will replace the steering wheel bolt on the vehicle with a longer bolt with more robust thread engagement and larger nylon patch placed properly for proper torque retention— at no cost to customers.”
It isn’t just steering wheel detachments on Ford’s to-do list today. At the same time, Ford announced another recall for 2013-2016 Focus sedans equipped with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and B6 manual transmission, as well as 2013-2015 Fusions equipped with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder and the same manual tranny. Rare models, indeed.
“Torque capacity reduction due to clutch lining wear can cause excessive slip, introducing a large amount of energy and heat into the pressure plate,” the automaker stated. “Structural failure or fracture of the pressure plate eventually may occur. Leaking transmission fluid near an ignition source can lead to the risk of an engine compartment fire.”
Unlike the loosey-goosey Fusion steering wheels, the second recall only affects 5,872 vehicles in North America.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]
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