Ford Faces Class Action Over Unintended Acceleration Issues

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A class action lawsuit has been brought against the Ford Motor Co. in West Virginia federal court over alleged defects that caused unintended acceleration in its vehicles.

The lawsuit alleges that Ford vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010 are equipped with an electronic throttle control system that may be subject to sudden unintended acceleration, said Law360. The complaint also alleges that Ford admitted that some of its vehicles are prone to unintended acceleration.

The complaint also cites an October 2011 report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General that states that owners of Ford vehicles have experienced unacceptable rates of sudden unintended acceleration, Law360 said. The plaintiffs allege that Ford should have prevented the unintended acceleration incidents by including brakeoveraccelerator other failsafe systems in its vehicles.

Although Ford began installing a brakeoveraccelerator system in some vehicles in 2010, it has never corrected the issue in earlier vehicles and has not warned drivers about the lack of such a brakeoveraccelerator or other failsafe system in its earlier vehicles, the complaint indicates, said Law360. It seems the electronic throttle system takes control of the accelerator away from the driver, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney.

Last year, the Ford Taurus was under investigation for potential unintended acceleration issues. Some 360,000 vehicles were expected to be involved in a probe being conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At that time, Ford Taurus vehicles from model years 2005 and 2006 had been involved in at least 14 complaints over what consumers described as detached cruise control cables and sticking throttles, as of 2012. No injuries or crashes were reported at that time.

Also, 170,000 Ford Freestyle crossover SUVs from model year 2005 through 2007 were recalled following 238 complaints and 18 crashes over unintended “lunging” when driving at low speeds and when the gas pedal was not engaged. Of the affected cars sold in the United States, complaints about unintended acceleration totaled 15,174 from 2000 to March 2010; 141 investigations were prompted since 1980, with most—112—closed with no corrective action, according to NHTSA data compiled for Bloomberg News in 2010.

It a prior recall posted on the NHTSA’s website, Ford said that the so-called “lunge” can be stopped by depressing the brake pedal, “but, in some cases, the vehicle has moved as much as 10 feet if the brake was not applied, lightly applied, or applied late,” the NHTSA said. According to a prior Bloomberg News report on that issue, customers complained of the movement occurring in both forward- and backward-moving gears, describing the moves as “sudden and unexpected and generally brief in duration,” the NHTSA said. The lunge appears to be made worse when air conditioning is running or when the steering wheel is sharply turned, added NHTSA.

In addition to a reported injury to a pedestrian in a residential driveway, the NHTSA documented 20 fatalities as far back as 1980 over sudden acceleration claims. Another 51 deaths had been connected to Toyota and another 12 to Chrysler Group LLC over sudden acceleration allegations as of 2012.

Two years prior, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration issues and later announced it was recalling 2.17 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. for flaws that could jam gas pedals, leading to instances of unintended acceleration. Worldwide, as of 2012, at least 14 million Toyota vehicles had been recalled over unintended acceleration issues.

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