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Published: Friday, 7/20/2012

Ford recalls Escape SUVs to fix problem with fuel lines

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ford Motor Co. issued its second recall on the 2013 Escape in a week. The latest problem involves a fuel line that can crack, spilling fuel and potentially causing a fire. On Saturday, Ford issued a recall to fix a carpeting issue. Ford Motor Co. issued its second recall on the 2013 Escape in a week. The latest problem involves a fuel line that can crack, spilling fuel and potentially causing a fire. On Saturday, Ford issued a recall to fix a carpeting issue.
FORD MOTOR CO. Enlarge

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is telling owners of one version of the brand-new Ford Escape not to drive the SUVs until dealers can fix fuel lines that can crack and spill gasoline, causing engine fires.

The company issued the unusual warning Thursday and said it is recalling 2013 Escapes equipped with 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines. Dealers will pick up the Escapes and drop off a loaner car that customers can use until repairs are finished. The company is hoping to get all the SUVs repaired in the next two weeks.

Ford said it has had three reports of fires: two at the factory and one while a customer was driving an Escape. No one has been injured.

The recall affects 11,500 Escapes in the United States and Canada. Only 4,800 have been sold to customers. The rest are on dealer lots and will be fixed before they are sold, spokesman Marcey Zwiebel said.

Escapes powered by other engines are not affected, nor are other Ford models with 1.6-liter engines, Ms. Zwiebel said.

This is the second recall of the redesigned Escape, which went on sale in June. On Saturday, the company said it would recall more than 10,000 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking.

The new Escape is among Ford's top-selling vehicles. People bought 28,500 last month, up 28 percent from June, 2011.

The Escapes in the latest recall were built in Louisville from April through July 11.

Two recalls in one week are unusual, but more likely a coincidence than a sign of quality problems, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group. Mr. Ditlow, who has been critical of Ford's safety record, said he questions a vehicle's quality if it has three recalls in a year.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with the Edmunds.com automotive Web site, said Ford apparently has learned from Toyota's slow response to unintended acceleration problems. "Since the Escape is one of Ford's highest-volume models, it is critically important that it addresses the problem quickly and properly," she said.

Ford said owners should call dealers to get the problem fixed. Replacing the fuel lines should take about one hour, Ms. Zwiebel said.

It's safe to park the Escapes in a garage because the fires happen only while the vehicles are moving, she added.

Older-model Escapes may also have safety problems. Government regulators are investigating complaints that throttles can stick on Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash. That probe affects 730,000 SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years with V-6s.



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