A recall petition put forth by a non-profit group, the Center for Auto Safety, claims a repair following a recall of 2002-2004 Ford Escapes has caused a defect making the vehicles subject to "unintended acceleration." The petition claims that approximately 320,000 Ford Escapes estimated to have been repaired following a recall may have suffered damage to their cruise control cables during the repair of an unrelated problem. The original recall was a repair "to prevent the accelerator cable from snagging on the accelerator pedal, which could have prevented the engine from returning to idle."
Ford apparently cautioned dealers performing recall repairs to the Escapes. A service bulletin sent to dealers indicated that damage to the cruise control cables could occur during the repair causing "cruise control cable to snag on a ridge in the engine cover and cause unintended acceleration." However, Ford did not inform the 2002-2004 Ford Escape owners that any damage may have occurred to their cruise control cables during the recall repair.
Following a January 2012 Ford Escape crash causing the death of a young woman in Payson, Arizona, an investigator found the cruise control cable had snagged. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) received more than 130 complaints on its website from owners of 2002-2004 Ford Escapes who had experienced sudden acceleration both prior to and after the recall.
Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, recommended that NHTSA investigate the problem of unintended acceleration in the 2002-2004 Ford Escapes, "conduct a new recall and pursue a civil fine." Ford says it will work closely with the NHTSA to determine the cause of the Arizona crash and take appropriate action, depending on the investigation’s results.
Let's hope the engineers investigating the crash are independent and not in any way tied to Ford or engineering consultants that rely on the auto industry for business. If not independent engineers, then it is likely that the investigation will ultimately end up exonerating the vehicle (Ford) and placing blame upon the driver for something called "pedal misapplication" or "driver error".