By on July 18, 2018

Automatic transmissions that shift into park but don’t actually end up in park are one of the greatest automotive sourges of our time. Of all automakers, Fiat Chrysler and Ford seem to have the worst luck with this.

On Wednesday, Ford Motor Company announced a recall of roughly 550,000 Fusions and Escapes to prevent the vehicles from getting loose, though some wonder why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn’t step in earlier to force the recall.

The affected models are 2013-2016 Fusions and 2013-2014 Escapes built at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant and Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant.

According to Ford, the bushing that connects the shift cable to the transmission can fail, leading to a sudden discrepancy between the gear you’ve just selected and the gear the vehicle is actually in. The potential consequences are fairly obvious.

The recall covers some 549,401 vehicles in North America, of which 504,182 were sold in the United States and federalized territories, 36,887 in Canada, and 8,332 in Mexico.

While Ford says no accidents or injuries stem from this problem, a report in Forbes points to years of complaints and several injuries. The publication uncovered 30 similar incidents involving the affected models,including one in 2014 where a woman was spun around by her vehicle’s door as it rolled away from her as she was exiting. The woman, whose foot was run over, claims she had placed the vehicle in park. All told, the incidents resulted in three injuries.

Why the NHTSA didn’t initiate an investigation isn’t known. Ford claims it became aware of the problem via “normal processes,” including field data.

While the affected Fusions came equipped with a regular gearshift lever, subsequent Fusions arrived with a potentially confusing rotary dial shifter that led to rollaway incidents when fielded by other automakers. Ford’s design, however, incorporated a “Return to Park” safety feature that activates whenever the engine is turned off while the vehicle isn’t in park.

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31 Comments on “Yet Another Rollaway Recall: Ford Calls Back 550,000 Vehicles for Driverless Journeys...”


  • avatar
    raph

    I guess in Ford’s zeal to move us into a transitional future where our drive-by-wire overlords actually control the vehicle they forgot how to design analog components?

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Also one of the greatest scourges of our time.

  • avatar
    GTL

    Don’t these cars come with parking brakes?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      To be fair, most people call the parking brake an “emergency” brake so the implication is if the hydraulic system fails there will be a mechanical back-up and not a system in place to take the load off of the transmission when the vehicle is parked ergo it is seldom used outside of the manual transmission crowd (for those not apt to lock the transmission by putting it into a gear opposite the direction of travel and/or racer types who are worried they will “warp” hot brakes).

      • 0 avatar
        GTL

        Understood, but many cars today have a foot-activated parking brake that locks, so it’s useless as an emergency brake. Even worse are electric parking brakes.

        And I was being a bit sarcastic.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The worst case scenario would be a Ford bursting into flames and then rolling off on it’s own, into a daycare center, paper recycling facility, or a kerosene refinery. Man, Fords are dangerous.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Fiat Chrysler and Ford seem to have the worst luck with this.”

    As an engineer, I can tell you, it’s not luck, it’s bad design. That’s why I drive a BMW. Yes, they are expensive to purchase and maintain, perhaps too expensive, but they tend to be well designed.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I drive a manual. When parked I apply the handbrake, put it in first gear, and turn the wheels in the appropriate direction for my parking scenario. I’m no engineer, but I’m no fool either.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      Let’s not pretend that BMW hasn’t offered its share of unintuitive gear selectors. There’s nothing confusing about Ford or FCA’s rotary shifters.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Agreed. I drove a friend’s Fusion with the rotary shitter and it was fairly simple to operate. That being said I almost put my head through the windscreen as I searched for the clutch and floored the brake. My primary car is a manual.

        Rotaries don’t bug me, except to say that it feels like change just because. The only shifters I feel I might have an issue with would be those monostatic shifters that rerurn to a neutral postion after the gear is selected, bit having no experience with one I couldn’t say.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “Let’s not pretend that BMW hasn’t offered its share of unintuitive gear selectors.”

        Perhaps unintuitive to an auto journalist who spends 30 minutes driving the car. I had mine mastered in about 3 days; after 5 years, I wouldn’t want any other kind of shifter.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Most can master an automatic transmission selector in a few minutes. And what is with the “push the same direction to cancel” unintuitive design on the signals?

  • avatar
    Fred

    When I parked cars you had to lift the shifter up on Ford LTDs to start the car. You would of think that problem would be engrained into every engineer at Ford.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Does anyone know how many recalls this is for the 2013 Escape – I’m thinking mid-teens?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The more things change….
    In the late 70’s I owned a 70 Mustang Coupe. This was during the era of the massive for its time Ford recall and safety information campaign to owners of vehicles with the Fordomatic, C4, C6 and FMX transmissions reminding them to put the car in park and use the emergency brake. Apparently the weak point in them was the pawl that locked it in Park. Even if there was no recall I always had the sense to use the emergency brake but they sent me the warning sticker which I promptly affixed to the visor.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I live in the midwest where it’s very flat, cars never roll away on their own

    • 0 avatar
      hirostates12

      Well, there you are. Problem solved. Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      There’s a reason no one knows what a handbrake/parking brake is here. “Oh, you mean the emergency brake?”

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I can’t tell you how many times my habit of parking in gear with the handbrake pulled (applied in the case of my electric parking brake) has saved my bacon. There have been a few instances where I’ve forgotten one or the other in a moment of distraction, but the other has always been applied.

        My brother had a Corolla with a failed handbrake and his car would shudder down a grade as his clutch was failing as well.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Another month, another Ford recall, and another hit to their bottom line.
    What amazes me, as a non engineer, is that these recalls seem to be for parts of the vehicle that are well understood and that they have built for years. Taking the cost out of a vehicle doesn’t make sense if you put the dollars back in the form of recall costs or litigation. Can anybody say “Quality is Job One” without laughing?????????

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      You know, I’m not disputing the fact that these recalls happened, but I have a 2015 F150, first year body with the 2.7 tt, first year motor and I havent had 1 yet. None on my other Ford either though it has only been with me a couple weeks and is an older design. Guess you win some, you lose some.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    Aren’t most of us focused primarily on our phone when getting out of the car? My GTI even reminds me to bring my phone with me. There are tools many distractions not pertaining to safe driving.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I had something similar happen when the neutral safety swich (Also told the ECU what gear the truck was in aparently) disentigrated on my Land Cruiser. Indicator showed park but it wasnt actually in park. Being an 80 series the Pawking Brake had gone to parking brake heaven years prior. Of course I was never in peril because I was immediately clued into the fact something was amiss when I went to open the door, took my foot off the brake and you know, the truck moved. As such I didn’t get out.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    That famous Alan Mulally Ford quality strikes again!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES – UR DOIN IT RONG.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “According to Ford, the bushing that connects the shift cable to the transmission can fail, leading to a sudden discrepancy between the gear you’ve just selected and the gear the vehicle is actually in. The potential consequences are fairly obvious.”

    Hmmmmm… a bushing. Made in China?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Ford has a systemic QC crisis on its hands. This is backed up by credible statistical compilation.

    There are, and this is not an exaggerated claim, at least 12 people (more likely it’s’as high as 18-20) that I’ve told not to purchase or lease Ford or Lincoln vehicles over the last 10’years or so, up to the past 6 months.

    All but maybe 3 of them that did have had more problems with their Ford or Lincolns than any vehicles they’ve ever owned, hand serious problems at that.

    They’ve also cursed their dealerships and Ford/Lincoln corporate, for being awful in terms of a complete lack of professionalism and customer service.

    None of these people purchased the F-Series. It’s not like pickup truck buyers to solicit buying advice, and they are the most brand-loyal demographic of all.

    Ford makes hot garbage, and it’s a systemic, process-wide issue now with their in-house facilities and in terms of their suppliers. They have a true, real reliability crisis on their hands, and their dealerships and Ford corporate do little to assuage the pain.


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