Ford Motor Company is recalling 915,000 compact sport utility vehicles to repair a defect in the steering gear that can result in a sudden loss of power steering. The recall is the largest of four safety recalls affecting 1.3 million vehicles the auto maker announced Thursday.
According to Ford, the steering defect recall affects model year 2008-2011 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs manufactured at Ford’s Kansas City, Mo., factory. The company is also recalling 527 of the vehicles outside the U.S. for the same problem. The vehicles affected by the glitch were made between Aug. 18, 2006, and Sept. 11, 2010.
Ford has been investigating the steering defect since 2009, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records, but an investigation of the problem last year by Canadian regulators triggered new action by the company, CBS News reported. In January, Ford began distributing a repair kit to its dealerships.
The company said the problem is found within the steering gear. An intermittent electrical connection within a torque sensor that detects when the driver turns the wheel can default to manual steering mode, killing the power steering. A sudden loss of power steering can result in loss of control and crash because steering becomes much more difficult without power assistance.
Ford said that it knows of five crashes related to the defect, injuring a total of six people.
Dealers will either replace the steering or replace the steering gear, the company said.
Ford is also recalling more than 196,000 Taurus sedans from model years 2010-2014 for a potential rust problem around the plate light that can create a short circuit and fire.
Another 82,500 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Lincoln Zephyr, and Lincoln MKZ cars from model years 2006-2011 are being recalled to replace floor mats. Ford said that some car mats can interfere with the gas pedal if not properly placed.