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Ford Expands SUV Recall Over Engine Fires

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Ford emblem on vehicle grill | Image by Gene J. Puska

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Due to a series of engine fires, Ford Motor Co. is expanding its recall on certain SUVs and advises owners to park vehicles outside, away from buildings.

To date, Ford has received 21 reports of engine fires, five of which occurred after the original recall issued in May. The company has received one report of a burn injury, according to documents filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The five additional fires have caused the automotive manufacturer to expand the recall to 66,000 vehicles: 2021 model year Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. This brings the total number of recalled Expeditions and Navigators to more than 100,000.

Aside from this recall, Ford has also recalled certain 2020 to 2022 models of Escape, Maverick, and Corsair due to a different under-hood fire risk. The recall affects over 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. with a 2.5-liter hybrid/plug-in hybrid engine.

Regarding the initial recall of 39,013 Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators in May, Jeffrey Marentic, general manager of Ford Passenger Vehicles, stated, “We are working around-the-clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles.”

He added, “We recognize the importance of staying in touch with our customers until we resolve this matter.”

Since then, Ford has traced the engine fires to printed circuit boards within the vehicles’ battery junction boxes. As part of the recall process, dealers will replace affected units by removing or repairing the cooling fan ground wire that connects to the junction box.

About one-third of the recalled SUVs can be fixed immediately by removing the ground wire, according to Ford. Parts are expected to be available in early September.

Identifying a solution to the engine fires has not stopped three owners of the 2021 Ford Expedition and 2021 Lincoln Navigator vehicles from filing a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The law firm filing the suit on behalf of Expedition and Lincoln owners, Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol and Shapiro, is seeking to have the case certified as a class action and said it is investigating model years beyond 2021.

Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of the law firm, said it is positive news that Ford found its manufacturing defect. However, the timeline to repair affected vehicles is months away.

“Ford claims to have designed a fix, yet admits it only has parts for a small subset of the affected vehicles, and the timeline Ford presents is at best several months in the future for most vehicles to be repaired,” said Berman. “In the meantime, affected owners are stuck with expensive vehicles that they can only use if they assume a risk of fire and can’t park at their homes or work or near anything flammable.”

In addition to the recent manufacturer recall, Ford recalled nearly 3 million vehicles in mid-June to fix a transmission problem that increased the risk of inadvertent roll-away crashes.

Owners of vehicles affected by the most recent recall can expect to be contacted by Ford directly beginning August 8. In the meantime, vehicle owners may check whether their vehicles are included in recalls by visiting https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering their 17-digit vehicle identification number.     

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