Ford Door Latch, Fire Risk Recalls Will Cost Automaker $295M

440,000 Cars in North America Affected by Door Latch, Fire Risk Recalls

A total of 440,000 cars in North America are affected by two separate Ford recalls. One recall is being launched due to a defective door latch that can prevent the door from closing, and another is being issued due to the risk of fires under the car hood. In a securities filing, Ford indicated that the recalls will cost approximately $295 million.

Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing clients in product liability lawsuits involving allegedly defective and dangerous products. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an auto recall lawsuit.

Ford previously recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to a faulty door latch. According to Law360, the recent recall is an expansion. Affected vehicles include 2014 model year Ford Fiesta, 2013-14 Ford Fusion and 2013-14 Lincoln MKZ. So far, there have been no reports of injury associated with the defective latches. However, Ford has noted that the faulty latch increases the risk of injury. The recent door latch recall affects roughly 211,000 vehicles.

The under-hood fire recall affects about 230,000 vehicles. Affected models include the Ford Escape, Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Fusion and Ford Transit Connects from model years 2013 to 2015 with 1.6-liter GTDI engines. Recalled vehicles lacking coolant may have a higher risk of an overheating engine and a cracked cylinder head.

“A cracked cylinder head can result in a pressurized oil leak,” Ford stated, according to Law360. “Oil that comes into contact with a hot engine surface increases the risk of a fire in the engine compartment.” The company said the issue was linked to 29 reports of fires in the United States and Canada. No injuries have been reported so far.

Ford states that the vehicles can still be driven. However, if the vehicle is leaking coolant, overheating, or needs coolant added frequently they should see their dealer, the company said. The automaker stated that “When service kits are available, dealers will install a coolant level sensor with supporting hardware and software at no charge to the customer.”

In one report submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the owner of a 2014 Ford Focus said their vehicle caught fire in November 2016. “The car was parked in the parking lot, turned off and an hour and a half later I was notified it was on fire,” the report states. “The fire started under the hood.”

Another owner said their 2013 Ford Fiesta exhibited shuddering, lunging and jerking before the engine overheated and caught on fire. The owner also said they had difficulty changing gears.

Ford Door Latch Recall Background

Ford door latch recalls started in January 2015. Initially, 205,000 Ford Taurus sedans were recalled. In March 2015, Ford also recalled 213,000 Ford Explorer and Police Interceptor SUVs.

Ford recalled more vehicles in April 2015. A total of 390,000 vehicles were affected. The recall included model year 2011 to 2014 Ford Fiestas and 2013 to 2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles. An additional 156,000 of the same vehicles were added one week later, according to Law360.

NHTSA began investigating Ford over the door latch issue in January 2016. The probe was prompted by 73 reports where consumers said the doors failed to latch. Some said the “door ajar” warning light appeared on the dashboard. According to Consumerist, some reports even said owners tied down the door to keep it shut. Drivers also reported that doors opened while driving. The investigation was closed in October. The agency determined that the recall addressed the safety risks.

This was not the first time NHTSA investigated Ford vehicles over the faulty door latch issue. The agency previously launched an investigation in September 2014 into model year 2011 to 2013 Ford Fiestas. The NHTSA had received 61 reports of door latch failure. In 12 cases, owners said the door opened while the car was moving. Others said that the issued simply caused the warning light to appear.

“The rear passenger door failed to close due to the cheap plastic door latch malfunctioning. I got it fixed. Literally two days later, the front passenger door latch broke and failed after my friend entered the vehicle. We did not realize the door latch failed until after I began driving. The first corner I took, the door flew open and he was nearly executed from the vehicle,” one report said, according to Consumerist.

Filing an Auto Recall Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit involving a recalled vehicle, contact one of our product liability lawyers today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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