Recall for Defective Ford Throttle Body Could Come From Petition
The North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC) has officially petitioned the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defect investigation of alleged throttle body failures in 2005-2012 Ford Escape vehicles sharing the same or substantially similar part.
NCCC has received several complaints regarding these vehicles in addition to complaints received by the NHTSA. Consumers report repeated instances of the vehicles either stalling in motion or suddenly surging forward when accelerating from a stop, posing a serious safety risk to vehicle occupants, other motorists and pedestrians.
In two recent complaints to NCCC, drivers reported intermittent vehicle stalls and surges as they enter traffic from a stopped position or while driving at highway speeds.
As the problem was initially intermittent, the drivers continued to operate their vehicles in this condition, eventually progressing to the point of keeping one foot on the brake while stopped and the other on the gas pedal to keep the vehicle running.
Obviously, doing so is dangerous. In both complaints, the problem was diagnosed as a failed throttle body, with trouble codes P2111 and P2112 present in the onboard computer system, indicating the electronic throttle actuator control system was stuck open and closed, respectively. In both cases, drivers reported no warning signs prior to the initial failure or prior to subsequent failures.
They report no damages, carbon buildup or other mechanical interference on the failed parts. NCCC is in possession of one of the failed throttle bodies and is holding it should the NHTSA request it for inspection. It shows no signs of damage.
“This is obviously a very dangerous and rapidly growing issue that needs to be addressed immediately,” said NCCC President Sandra Bullock. “With consumers now holding both the brake and gas pedals simultaneously, it’s only a matter of time before a driver inadvertently pushes the wrong pedal, resulting in unintended movement. We trust that the NHTSA will investigate and take the necessary steps to remedy the problem as quickly as possible.”
The complaint data from the NHTSA website shows that a number of complaints were filed between November 2011 and August 2012 for the 2009 model, for which NCCC has received complaints. There are also complaints regarding sticking throttles or throttle body failure in 2005-2012 models, all of which apparently use the same “drive-by-wire” design. This issue is separate from a recent recall involving other Ford Escape vehicles for the 2002-2004 model years, which use a conventional cable design in place of an electronic assembly.
It is important to note that a “drive-by-wire” throttle is generally safer than conventional throttle cables, as any failure of the system will result in a ‘limp home’ or reduced power mode. The unpredictability of the repeated failures coupled with driver actions of applying both the brake and gas pedals simultaneously, however, can put motorists at risk in this case.
Some websites allege that other late model vehicles, such as the Ford Windstar, Ford Mustang, Ford Fusion, Mercury Mariner and Mercury Milan, exhibit the same condition and have an identical or very similar throttle body. NCCC received no complaints from owners of those vehicles.
Ford has issued several technical service bulletins (TSBs) for various models throughout the years for issues relating to electronic throttles. Suggested repairs for common issues have included reprogramming the powertrain control module and/or replacing the throttle body.
The NHTSA has opened an investigation into this issue.
What You Should Do
If you have a defect with your vehicle that is the same or similar to this one, please file a complaint with NHTSA. The total amount of time involved is approximately five minutes. As the investigation is ongoing, NCCC is unable to assist consumers further with this issue other than by referring them to NHTSA to add their complaints.