Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of almost 1.4 million vehicles after a five-month National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into the cars in question.
The motor vehicle manufacturer recalled the cars due to dangers involving the steering wheel, including the possibility that it could fall off—as it did for one driver who complained to the NHTSA, but, luckily, was not injured in the incident.
Which Cars are Part of the Ford Steering Wheel Recall?
Ford issued the recall on March 14, 2018, and said they would recall 1,378,637 vehicles in total in North America. The two types of vehicles subject to the recall are the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ, both of which the motor company says can have “potentially loose steering wheel bolts that could result in a steering wheel detaching from the steering column.”
The recall involves all 11 models of the Fusion and three models of the Lincoln MKZ (which both have hybrid and specialty models).
The vehicles in question were built at two different manufacturing plants that Ford operates, one in Flat Rock, Michigan, and the other in Hermosillo, Mexico. The specific vehicles include:
- 2014-17 Ford Fusion vehicles built at Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Aug. 6, 2013 to Feb. 29, 2016
- 2014-18 Ford Fusion vehicles built at Hermosillo Assembly Plant, July 25, 2013 to March 5, 2018
- 2014-18 Lincoln MKZ vehicles built at Hermosillo Assembly Plant, July 25, 2013 to March 5, 201
A vast majority of the vehicles being recalled are from the United States, with only 62,479 in Canada and a mere 14,172 in Mexico.
NHTSA Investigation Was Launched in October of 2017
While the official Ford recall was just issued, concerns about steering wheel problems with Ford’s Fusion and Lincoln MKZ have reportedly been present for some time.
On October 23, 2017, the NHTSA opened an investigation into the matter following three complaints being filed with the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). Each of the complaints mentioned the steering wheel fastening bolts coming loose, and they covered the range of years in question (2014, 2015 and 2016).
One complaint detailed a driver who was driving the vehicle when the steering wheel fully detached from the steering column.
The driver, an unidentified individual from Columbia, Tennessee, said that they had noticed the steering wheel had been “a little wobbly” over the course of two weeks before it completely separated from the steering column and fell into their lap while they were turning into a gas station on the way to Athens, Georgia.
Because the motorist was making a slow turn into an area where they could stop, no injuries were reported, but the defect could easily have turned deadly at another point in the trip.
When the NHTSA investigation was announced, Ford told Reuters that it would cooperate “with the agency on its investigation, as we always do.” It is believed that the NHTSA investigation was a factor in Ford deciding to recall the vehicles.
Hyundai Issued Similar Recall in February
Ford is not the only one to be plagued with steering wheel problems in recent weeks. Hyundai announced on March 5, 2018, that they would be recalling 43,941 vehicles because of a similar potential for steering wheels to detach.
The recall encompassed both the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport, some made in South Korea, some in Alabama, and some in Georgia.
Hyundai said the vehicles “may contain defective steering wheel assemblies from a certain suspect production lot from the supplier,” but it’s not clear if there is any connection between those parts and the ones found on the Ford vehicles being recalled.
Recalls Not Uncommon for Ford
Ford Motor Company has itself often been in the position of recalling vehicles. Not long before the NHTSA began their investigation into the steering wheels, Ford announced on October 18, 2017, that they would recall 1.34 million of their trucks because of a problem that could cause doors to suddenly open.
It brought Ford’s total number of vehicles recalled for door-latch problems since 2016 to 5 million vehicles
Ford’s most recent steering wheel recall was accompanied with a recall of some 2013-2016 Ford Focus models and 2013-2015 Ford Fusion models, which they said was due to “clutch pressure plate fracture with risk of fire.” The company still faces public scrutiny and lawsuits after three vehicles manufactured between 2009 and 2011 caused fires that lead to injuries.
Is My Vehicle Part of the Recall?
To find out whether your Ford Fusion or Lincoln MZK is one of the affected vehicles, you can search using your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the NHTSA website. Ford has said they will notify drivers by mail no later than April 30, 2018 if they have one of the vehicles.
If your vehicle falls under the recall, Ford says dealers will swap out its current steering wheel bolt for a long bolt with “more robust thread engagement”, as well as a larger nylon patch “placed properly for proper torque retention”. There will be no charge for these adjustments.
If you or a loved one believes you faced danger or harm resulting from your use of a now-recalled Ford vehicle, contact Cutter Law for a free case consultation to discuss your options. Our attorneys have extensive experience in product recall lawsuits and can help you understand your legal rights.