Federal regulators investigating the potential for sudden unintended acceleration in Ford and Mercury cars expanded their probe this week to encompass nearly 2 million vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched its investigation on Sunday in response to a number of complaints it received of Ford Taurus cars suddenly accelerating on their own. The investigation started with 360,000 2005-2006 Taurus Sedans, but on Monday grew to include another 1.56 million vehicles, including Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans made in the 2001 through 2005 model years.
Reminiscent of the sudden unintended acceleration recalls that sent millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to the shop for recall repairs, the Ford investigation focuses on sticking accelerator pedals. On Monday, NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran said “the agency is actively investigating a potential issue with a stuck throttle resulting from cruise control detachment involving certain Ford vehicles.”
NHTSA said that a faulty cruise control cable may be causing the sudden acceleration events by becoming detached and holding the throttle open.
“The agency is carefully evaluating all available data and will share any findings upon conclusion of its investigation,” she added.
Among the 14 reports NHTSA received were complaints that the Taurus engine revved up to 4,000 RPMs after the driver put the car in park or shifted to neutral. Other drivers reported difficulty stopping their vehicle from racing out of control and crashing.
According to a complaint filed last month, the driver of a 2006 Taurus said, “while coasting uphill and approaching my left turn (the vehicle) began to accelerate. I made the left turn while applying a good amount of force to the brake pedal for fear that I would hit mail boxes and homes.”
In November, the driver of a 2005 Taurus reported that he was stopped at a light when his car began to rev “and could not hold on to brakes enough to stop moving. Went through red light around two cars as speed reached about 70 miles per hour. Both feet on brakes, Could smell them burning.”
One driver who reported a sudden acceleration incident to NHTSA in August 2010 wrote, “This is an extremely dangerous situation … There needs to be something done about this before it becomes fatal.”
Fortunately, no fatalities or injuries were associated with any of the reported incidents.