Ford Cruise Control Deactivation Switch Recalls and History
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On April 25, 1996, Ford Motor Company recalled 7.9 million vehicles for defective ignition switches that could short circuit and start fires in parked vehicles with the engine off because the switch circuit was hot or powered at all times. In a virtual replay on October 9, 2009, Ford Motor Company announced the last of its six recalls for defective Cruise Control Deactivation Switches that suffered from the same failure mode as the earlier ignition switch – an electrical switch in a continually powered, non-fused circuit. (In both cases, the suspect switch was made by Texas Instruments.) This latest recall in the series brought the total number of vehicles involved to 14.9 million. The switches, which run continuously even when the vehicle is not in operation, are prone to fail over time and cause electrical fires. One side of the switch is electrical and the other side is flammable hydraulic fluid, a combination conducive to fire. Fires in these vehicles have caused numerous house and garage fires, and resulted in deaths in several states.
Ford had knowledge of the cruise control switch defect for many years before 2009. The first recall related to these switches (99V-124) was announced by Ford on May 13, 1999, pursuant to NHTSA investigations PE98-055, upgraded to EA99-006. Ford agreed to recall 263,000 1992-93 Lincoln Town Cars built from November 4, 1991, through November 30, 1992, and the 1992-93 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis built from February 5, 1992, through November 30, 1992. More than 100 complaints were identified by Ford and NHTSA during the 1998-99 investigations, yet Ford continued to use the same switches in vehicles though model year 2004 vehicles.
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After recall 99V-124, NHTSA opened an Informal Evaluation IE01-042 on August 10, 2001, based on 9 complaints of engine compartment fires including a report of 3 fires from the City of Baton Rouge Fire Department. Two of the nine fires occurred in parked vehicles in garages which resulted in two houses being totally burned down. All of the vehicles were outside the scope of the first recall. Shortly thereafter on September 20, 2001, NHTSA upgraded IE01-042 to Recall Query RQ01-002 to determine whether recall 99V-124 should be expanded. On September 6, 2002, NHTSA upgraded RQ01-002 into an Engineering Analysis, EA02-025 into 1.9 million 1992-97 Lincoln Town Car, Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis. Inexplicably, NHTSA closed EA02-025 on June 30, 2004 without a further recall saying merely: “Based on the low rate of fire incidents where failure of the SCDS is involved and the age of the vehicles – 7 to 11 years – a safety-related defect trend has not been identified and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted.”
Less than six months after closing EA02-025, NHTSA opened Preliminary Evaluation PE04-078 on November 19, 2004, into Cruise Control Deactivation Switch fires in 738,490 2000 Ford F150, Expedition and Lincoln Navigators based on 36 reports of engine compartment fires with the engine off and the vehicle parked. During the course of PE04-078, Ford announced the recall (05V-017) of basically all the trucks and SUVs involved in the investigation but NHTSA upgraded the PE to Engineering Analysis EA05-005 covering 3.7 million 1995 to 2005 Ford F150, and 1997 to 2002 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators with the exception of the already recalled 2000 model year trucks and SUVs. The opening resume pointed out the agency had 218 fire reports on the vehicles not covered by Ford in recall 05V-017. EA05-005 continued until Ford conducted two more Cruise Control Deactivation Switch recalls, 05V-388 covering 4.5 million 1994-95 Ford Bronco, 1997-02 Ford Expedition, 1994-02 Ford F150, 1994-99 Ford F250, 2002 Lincoln Blackwood and 1998-02 Lincoln Navigator and 06V-286 covering 1.2 million 1994-02 Ford F250/F350/F450/F550, 1994-95 Ford Club Wagon, E-150/E-250/E-350/Econoline, 1996-02 E-450, 2000-02 Ford Excursion, 1998 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.
Although NHTSA closed EA 05-005 on August 2, 2006 after the above recalls, public pressure and reports of continuing Cruise Control Deactivation Switch fires on other models forced Ford to do three more recalls. In March 2007, Ford recalled 155,584 2003 Ford Excursion, F-150, F250/F350/F450/F550 Super Duty and Lincoln Blackwell plus the 2002-03 Ford E550 in recall 07V-078. In August 2007 Ford recalled 3.6 million 1998-02 Ford Ranger, 1992-98 Lincoln Town Car, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, 1993-98 Lincoln Mark VIII, 1993-95 Ford Taurus SHO, 1991-01 Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer, 2001-02 Ford Explorer Sport/Sport Trac, 1993 Ford F-Series, E-150 to E-450 & Bronco, 1992-93 Ford E-150 to E-350, 1997-02 Ford E-150 to E-350, 1994 Mercury Capri, and 1995-02 F-53 motor homes in the latest recall (07V-336). In October 2009, Ford recalled 4.5 million 1995-2003 Ford Windstar, 2000-2003 Ford Excursion diesel, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 Ford F-250 SD through F-550 SD diesel, 1992-2003 Ford E-150 through E-550,1995-2002 Ford Explorer, 1997 and 2002 Mercury Mountaineer, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Ford Ranger, and 1994 Ford F-53 vehicles (09V-399).
Recall ID No.
No. of Vehicles Recalled
FORD / CROWN VICTORIA 1992-1993 LINCOLN / TOWN CAR 1992-1993 MERCURY / GRAND MARQUIS 1992-1993
FORD / EXPEDITION 2000 FORD / F150 2000 FORD / SUPERCREW 2001 LINCOLN / NAVIGATOR 2000
FORD / BRONCO 1994-1996 FORD / EXPEDITION 1997-2002 FORD / F150 1994-2002 FORD / F250 1994-1999 LINCOLN / BLACKWOOD 2002 LINCOLN / NAVIGATOR 1998-2002
FORD / E-250 1994-1996 FORD / E-350 1994-1996 FORD / E450 1996-2002 FORD / ECONOLINE 1994-1996 FORD / EXCURSION 2000-2002 FORD / EXPLORER 1998 FORD / F250 1994-2002 FORD / F350 1994-2002 FORD / F450 1994-2002 FORD / F550 1994-2002 FORD / MOUNTAINEER 1998
FORD / E550 2002-2003 FORD / EXCURSION 2003 FORD / F-150 2003 FORD / F250 SUPER DUTY 2003 FORD / F350 SUPER DUTY 2003 FORD / F450 SUPER DUTY 2003 FORD / F550 SUPER DUTY 2003 LINCOLN / BLACKWOOD 2003
FORD / E-150 1992-2003 FORD / E-250 1992-2003 FORD / BRONCO 1993 FORD / CROWN VICTORIA 1992-1998 FORD / E-150 1997-2002 FORD / E-250 1997-2002 FORD / E-350 1997-2002 FORD / E150 1992-1993 2003 FORD / E250 1992-1993 2003 FORD / E350 1992-1993 2003 FORD / E450 2003 FORD / EXPLORER 1999-2001 FORD / EXPLORER SPORT 2001-2002 FORD / EXPLORER SPORT TRAC 2001-2002 FORD / F-150 LIGHTNING 2003-2004 FORD / F150 1993 FORD / F250 1993 FORD / F350 1993 FORD / F450 1993 FORD / F53 1995-2002 FORD / RANGER 1998-2002 FORD / TAURUS SHO 1993-1995 LINCOLN / MARK VIII 1993-1998 LINCOLN / TOWN CAR 1992-1998 MERCURY / CAPRI 1994 MERCURY / GRAND MARQUIS 1992-1998 MERCURY / MOUNTAINEER 1999-2001
FORD / E-350 1992-2003 FORD / E-450 1992-2003 FORD / E-550 1992-2003 FORD / EXCURSION 2000-2003 FORD / EXPLORER 1995-2002 FORD / F-250 SD 1993-1997 1999-2003 FORD / F-350 SD 1993-1997 1999-2003 FORD / F-450 SD 1993-1997 1999-2003 FORD / F-550 SD 1993-1997 1999-2003 FORD / F53 1994 FORD / RANGER 1995-1997 2001-2003 FORD / WINDSTAR 1995-2003 MERCURY / MOUNTAINEER 1997 2002