Ford Freestyle Investigated for Unintended Acceleration

Another vehicle recall is making news over unintended acceleration issues, but this time, it’s not Toyota, but Ford, that is making headlines. Bloomberg News reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating some 170,000 <"">Ford Freestyle crossover SUVs from model year 2005 through 2007.

Following 238 complaints and 18 crashes over unintended “lunging” when driving at low speeds and when the gas pedal is not engaged, the NHTSA opened the investigation, it said on its website; one crash resulted in minor injuries, noted Bloomberg News.

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, said Bloomberg News, citing NHTSA data compiled for the news outlet in 2010.

Last year, lawmakers and U.S. regulators investigated unintended acceleration issues with Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, ultimately finding that floor mats could cause accelerator pedals and CTS Corp. pedals to jam and stick, said Bloomberg News, noting that millions of vehicles have been globally recalled by the world’s largest auto maker since 2009 over these issues.

It its recall posted at 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, wrote Bloomberg News. Bloomberg News said that 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, quoted Bloomberg News. 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 the one reported injury—to a pedestrian in a residential driveway who suffered a bruised knee—the agency has documented 20 fatalities as far back as 1980 over sudden acceleration claims, wrote Bloomberg News citing its 2010 data.

Meanwhile, 51 deaths have been connected to Toyota and another 12 to Chrysler Group LLC over sudden acceleration allegations, noted Bloomberg News, citing the tragic 2009 San Diego accident involving a Lexus and four family members.

The fatal crash involved California Highway Patrol trooper Mark Saylor (45); his wife, Cleofe (45); Mahala, their 13-year-old daughter; and Chris Lastrella (38), their brother-in-law; all four perished, said Detroit News previously.

Details of the chilling accident that prompted the NHTSA to investigate the crash include the 2009 Lexus plummeting over an embankment and bursting into flames. The family was able to contact a 911 operator, saying they were unable to stop the ES 350; Lastrella advised the operator that the Lexus had no brakes. Most poignantly, the 911 tape, which has been made public, included the family asking one another to pray at the recording’s end, just before their deaths. The accident led to Toyota’s recall of vehicles over concerns of sudden acceleration, said Bloomberg News previously.

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