NHTSA expands probe of stuck throttles to 1.9M Ford vehicles

March 13, 2012
NHTSA expands probe of stuck throttles to 1.9M Ford vehicles
By DAVID SHEPARDSON / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it is expanding its investigation into stuck throttles in another 1.56 million Ford Motor Co. vehicles.

On Sunday, NHTSA said it’s opening a preliminary investigation into 360,000 2005-06 Ford Taurus sedans over complaints of vehicles suddenly accelerating because of detached cruise control cables.

On Monday, NHTSA said it was expanding its review, in a formal request for information to Ford to include the 2001-2005 Taurus and Mercury Sable.

That means NHTSA is looking at a total of 1.92 million cars.

“The agency is actively investigating a potential issue with a stuck throttle resulting from cruise control cable detachment involving certain Ford vehicles,” NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran said.

“The agency is carefully evaluating all available data and will share any findings upon conclusion of its investigation,” she said.

Tran said it isn’t uncommon to look at similar vehicles as part of a preliminary investigation. NHTSA’s request “is inquiring about a broader population in order to obtain a basis for comparison.”

Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce said the automaker is cooperating.

NHTSA said Sunday it has received 14 complaints from Taurus owners that said the engine revved as high as 4,000 RPMs after shifting into park or neutral.

Some complaints said owners had trouble stopping the vehicles; and one owner said the vehicle had traveled partially through a red light before it stopped. Some drivers had to shift into neutral or shut off the car to stop the vehicle.

NHTSA didn’t identify any crashes or injuries related to the issue in its statement.

In a complaint filed Feb. 15, an owner from Hickory, N.C., said “while coasting uphill and approaching my left turn the (2006 Taurus) began to accelerate. I made the left turn while applying a good amount of force to the brake pedal for fear that I would hit mail boxes and homes.”

The owner of a 2005 Taurus told NHTSA in November that when stopped at a light the car started to rev “and could not hold on brakes enough to stop moving. Went through red light, around two cars as speed reached about 70 miles per hour. Both feet on brakes. Could smell them burning,” the owner wrote.

In both complaints, the owners said the problem was a disconnected cruise control cable.

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