The Ford Motor Company is issuing a recall for 4.5 million vehicles because of a faulty switch that can overheat and catch fire.
The action comes after an 18-month federal investigation that has Ford recalling more than 14 million vehicles in eight recalls over a decade over the faulty switch and the potential for fires.
The problem switch is made by Texas Instruments and sold for about $21. The cruise control deactivation switch can leak hydraulic fluid, overheat and then burn risking fire, even when the car is parked in your garage. The Windstar vans have an elevated risk, said a Ford spokesman.
The Detroit News, reports that Ford stopped using the switches in early 2003, but not before they were linked to at least 1,500 complaints and 550 vehicle fires.
At least one person died when the vehicle caught fire in their garage.
A 76-year-old man died August 14, 2007 when a fire started in his 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis parked in an attached garage in San Antonio, the Detroit News reports. Police reported it as an electrical malfunction in the engine compartment of the car.
You are advised to park your vehicle outside until it can be serviced.
Ford drivers should look for anything that appears to signal a fire danger such as malfunctioning cruise control and brake lights, antilock braking systems and brake light warnings on the dash. Another warning sign is difficulty in getting the vehicle out of the park mode.
You can take your vehicle to a dealer for a complimentary installation of a fused wiring harness that eliminates the risk of fires, according to NHTSA. The safety recall should officially begin the week of October 26th. Other resources include the NHTSA vehicle safety hotline a 1-888-327-4236 or http://www.safercar.gov.
Models included in the recall include: 1995-2003 Windstars, 2000-2003 Excursion diesels, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 F-Super Duty diesels, 1992-2003 Econolines, 1995-2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Rangers and 1994 F35 motorhomes.
Ford has for too long downplayed this problem. You have rights when you buy a defective automobile. Make sure you understand them.