Ford Motor Co. has issued another recall for the 2020-23 model year Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Escape SUVs after customers reported fires involving injuries and under-the-hood fires that occurred after the vehicle was parked.
The cause: Spilled fuel or escaping fumes on the hot engine or exhaust parts caused by a cracked fuel injector.
Up to 521,778 vehicles with 1.5 liter three-cylinder engines are potentially affected in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Specifically, 333,342 escapes and 188,436 Bronco Sports.
More than 100,000 vehicles in Europe and South America are also affected, Ford spokeswoman Maria Buczkowski told the Freie Presse on Thursday.
Automaker Dearborn has received 20 reports of under-bonnet fires, including three that ignited nearby buildings. The company also said it had four claims for fires that were noticed less than five minutes after the engines were shut off. Ford also has four non-burn injury claims and 43 legal claims attributed to the issue, the Associated Press reported.
Of four alleged injuries reported to Ford for two separate cases, two were reportedly related to exiting the vehicle and two were claimed due to stress, Buczkowski told Freie Presse.
Ford asked customers to look for warning signs and exit the vehicle if necessary, she said.
“A fuel leak can result in fuel odor both outside and inside the vehicle. If the fuel leak starts a fire that progresses, the customer may notice smoke or flames emanating from the engine compartment or underbody,” Ford wrote in its Nov. 14 recall report.
As is the case with similar Ford recalls, Ford said it does not recommend owners stop driving the vehicles or park them outdoors because the company says the chance of a fire is low.
“I don’t want to downplay the situation, but we expect a low failure rate,” said Buczkowski.
Owners of 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles have sued Ford over fire issues.
This design element, which causes the problems of the Bronco Sport and Escape, was introduced in the 2020 Escape and was phased out for both vehicles in October 2022, Ford said in its regulatory filing.
Potentially affected Escapes were built between November 19, 2018 and October 17, 2022. Potentially affected Bronco Sports were built between February 5, 2020 and October 17, 2022, Ford said.
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Ford had previously recalled this and other vehicles due to an engine oil leak and an engine compartment hazard. Vehicles previously repaired must return to the dealership for new repairs, Ford said in its filings.
Ford CEO Jim Farley tapped into a new quality czar earlier this year, overhauling quality management and seeing recalls and warranties eat away at the company’s profits.
This latest action follows a recall of 550,000 F-150 pickups due to a failed windshield wiper motor. Ford had more recalls in 2022 than any other automaker.
Repairs aren’t yet available for this latest Bronco Sport, Escape recalls, but once they are, owners should schedule service with a preferred dealer, Jim Azzouz, executive director of customer experience, said in a statement shared with the Free Press was made available.
As no schedule is available yet, customers are asked to monitor the situation through their dealers. There will be both a software update and the tube installation.
“A drain tube will be … installed to allow fuel to drain from the cylinder head drain hole, away from surfaces that could cause combustion, to the floor beneath the vehicle,” Ford said in its recall document.
Ford has extended the warranty to up to 15 years for cracked fuel injectors, Buczkowski said.
“Caring for our customers is our top priority,” she said. “Once repairs are available, customers can take advantage of (vehicle) pickup and delivery or a loaner.”
Ford plans to notify owners by mail between December 19 and 23 and arrive along with Christmas and Hanukkah cards.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-618-1034 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid.