Ford Motor Co. has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) it is recalling 692,700 vehicles to correct defects affecting air bag deployment and door handles that may stick or open on their own.
According to NHTSA data, 627,700 model-year 2013 and 2014 Escape SUVs will be included in two separate recalls, the first of which will repair side curtain airbags that may not deploy in certain rollover accidents. The problem stems from the airbag supplier reversing the airbag controller’s polarity. In a crash, the problem could mean the airbag may not deploy as “as quickly as intended.”
The airbag recall also includes 65,000 C-Max hybrid cars, which Ford started rolling out in 2012.
The other recall will realign door handles on the same model Escapes covered by the airbag recall. Ford began receiving reports of the problem from Escape owners in April 2013 and determined after nearly a year of testing that the door handles were not properly aligned with the door panels during assembly. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause the doors to stick. They may also be difficult to close and may open suddenly while the vehicle is in motion. None of the C-Max cars are affected by the door handle defect.
Although both of the safety defects could pose a serious risk of injury, no injuries have so far been linked to the problem. Almost all of the vehicles affected by the latest recalls are in the U.S., with a few in Canada and Mexico. Ford will begin notifying owners of all the affected vehicles later this month.
According to Exhaust Notes, the 2013 Ford Escape has been recalled 10 times since it debuted in 2012, and five of those recalls involved serious safety defects. Last fall, for example, Ford recalled 140,000 Escapes to repair engine cylinders that could overheat, crack, and cause engine fires.
The airbag recall marks the fifth time the C-Max has been recalled since it first hit the market, also in 2012. Last month, both the C-Max and Escape were subject to a recall for weak seat welds.