Faced with mounting complaints and multiple deaths involving uncontrolled acceleration of Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes, Ford and Mazda under mounting pressure recalled more than 500,000 Ford Escapes model years 2001-2004 and Mazda recalled more than 200,000 2001-2008 Tributes, the Escape’s sister SUV. Sadly, it took multiple deaths and complaints over more than 7 years to bring enough public attention to this issue to get the government’s attention and then to compel Ford to issue a recall. In August 2008 a young mother was killed when her 2003 Ford Escape accelerated out of control, unable to stop it, she jumped out, hitting her head on the pavement resulting in her death.
In 2007 a 43 year old mother died outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when her 2000 Ford Escape accelerated out of control through busy city streets and intersections, finally flipping and hitting a school bus causing the driver’s death. Academy of Products Safety attorney, Jaime Jackson, represented the family of the woman killed in a crash that occurred in a suburb of Philadelphia. For years now, Mr. Jackson, along with other trial attorneys and safety organizations have been trying to bring public awareness to these safety problems with the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute. Sadly, recently 17 year old Sage Bloom’s 2002 Ford Escape flipped and crashed in Arizona in January of 2012 bringing further attention to this issue.
Inspections of all three wrecked Ford Escapes in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Arizona found the same issue: the speed control cable’s plastic cover broken, the cable stuck under the engine cover, forcing the throttle open – and the SUV to accelerate at very high speeds.
Safety experts recommend that the only thing a driver can do to effectively stop the car when this happens is to put it in neutral, and steer it to the side of the road safely. However, this is easier said than done when a driver is faced suddenly with a totally unexpected acceleration of the vehicle, not knowing what is going on and trying to control the vehicle in an effort to avoid harming people around them. Ford had originally issued an earlier recall on the accelerator cables for 2002-2004 model year Escapes. However, what quickly became evident was that various technicians at Ford dealers may be performing the recall repair incorrectly by lifting up on the cruise control cable to gain access to the accelerator cable. By manipulating the cruise control cable this may cause damage or kinking in the cable that leads to the speed control or accelerator cable’s plastic cover becoming stuck under the engine cover, forcing the throttle open. Two months after the Missouri crash, Ford sent a warning to its dealers as an update to the earlier recall on the accelerator cables for the 2002-2004 model year Escapes, advising an incorrect repair on the accelerator cable, Ford said, could cause damage to the speed control cable, which sits next to it in an Escape’s engine.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating this problem earlier this year, the agency identified 99 complaints from owners of struck throttles in 2001-2004 Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes equipped with V6 engines. It is critically important that anyone who owns a Ford Escape or Mazda Tribute that has received notice of the recall, that they immediately bring the vehicle in to a dealer to have this work performed, even if you have not received notice of the recall because these car companies have not been able to contact you, and you own a 2001-2004 Ford Escape or 2001-2008 Mazda Tribute, you should bring your vehicle into the dealership immediately to have this recall repair work performed.