Feds Warn: Millions of Recalled Fords Still Aren't Fixed

Ford recallFederal regulators are encouraging owners of previously recalled makes and models of Ford Motor (F) vehicles to get them fixed to prevent the possibility of engine fires.

Only about 40% of the 17.5 million Ford cars, trucks, vans and motor homes recalled have so far been brought in for repairs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement on Oct. 21. That's much lower than the typical 70% repair rate achieved under most recall campaigns.

The massive Ford recall was issued to fix faulty cruise-control shutoff switches that can overheat and burn, possibly leading to a fire long after a vehicle has been turned off. The campaign involves more than 20 Ford models from the 1992 through 2004 model years.

'We're Urging Owners'

In its statement, NHTSA said it believes several million vehicles with the defect may still be on the road. As more of them enter the used-vehicle market, the agency is concerned that buyers won't know if repairs have been made or are needed.

"It appears that there are still far too many people who have ignored the company's notification to bring their vehicles in for the free repair," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland, The Detroit News reported. "We're urging owners of these previously recalled Ford vehicles to take them in to their Ford dealers for this vital repair if they haven't already done so."

The automaker acknowledged that the repair rate is lower than typical. Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said it has made extensive efforts to reach out to vehicle owners, notifying them "multiple times," the News reported.

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The latest outreach follows a similar consumer advisory that NHTSA issued in February 2008. The recall involves many popular Ford models, including the Ranger compact pickup, Explorer sports-utility vehicle and F-Series pickup trucks.

The switches involved in the recall, which were manufactured by Texas Instruments (TXN), disconnect the cruise-control system when the brake pedal is pressed. They were installed on Ford vehicles for about a decade before Ford stopped using them in the early 2000s.

The switches have been linked to at least 550 vehicle fires and 1,500 complaints, the News said. In total, Ford has conducted eight separate recalls from 1999 to 2009 to fix the problem.

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