Ford Recalls 43,000 SUVs Over Fire Risk, Opting for Diversion Tube Rather than Repairing Fuel Leaks


In a recent development, motoring giant Ford has announced a recall of approximately 43,000 of their smaller SUV models due to an unsettling risk of engine fires. This recall stems from a potential fuel leak from fuel injectors onto hot engine surfaces. One crucial point to note, however, is that the recall resolution does not entail repairing the fuel leaks.

This recall is primarily targeting specific 2022 and 2023 Bronco Sport SUVs along with Escape SUVs released in 2022. All vehicles falling under this recall harbor 1.5-liter engines. A cursory investigation by Ford, as outlined in the documents they filed with U.S. safety regulators, indicates that fuel injectors could potentially crack, leading to the accumulation of gasoline or gasoline vapor in close proximity to ignition sources. According to Ford, this sequence of events could intensify the chances of a fire outbreak.

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To prevent this fire risk, Ford dealerships will install a particular tube designed to divert accumulating gasoline away from hot engine surfaces to land beneath the vehicle safely. Additionally, an engine control software update will be initiated to accurately detect any pressure drops in the fuel injection system. If there is an issue, this updated software will intervene, disabling the high-pressure fuel pump, reducing engine power, and ultimately curbing engine compartment temperatures. Details regarding these preventative steps were made available Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Owners of the relevant vehicles will start receiving letters about these adjustments from April 1. Though there have been five reports of under-hood fires and a total of 14 warranty replacements of fuel injectors, Ford has reassured there are no confirmed reports of associated crashes or injuries. In a previous communique, Ford outlined that they are not intending to replace fuel injectors as they have confidence that these recall-based repairs are sufficient to prevent future failure and secure customer safety.

Alongside these steps, Ford has indicated an affirmation to extend its warranty coverage for fuel injectors known to crack under pressure. This means owners who encounter the problem will receive replacements for free. More detailed information regarding the extended warranty intentions will become available in June.

This current recall action, according to Ford, acts as an extension of a previous 2022 recall addressing the same problem. Assurances have been given that the repair method has been trialed and tested on vehicles involved in the prior recall, with no known issues. Ford added that they are not recommending parking SUVs exclusively outdoors due to lack of evidence to suggest fire outbreaks occur when vehicles are idle and engines switched off.

Michael Brooks, at the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, criticized Ford’s fix for the fuel leaks. He denounced it as a “Band-aid type recall” and suggested the company was skirting the costs of fuel injector repairs. Brooks added that a 1% failure rate is high, and despite the implemented repairs, drivers might find themselves needing to abandon the freeway at a slow speed, thereby increasing the risk of a crash.

He called on NHTSA to double down on enforcing recalls that address the root issues of vehicle problems instead of opting for more cost-effective repairs. The NHTSA, however, pointed out that they do not possess legal authority to preapprove recall remedies. The agency, in Wednesday’s statement, assured that they will monitor the recall’s performance closely using filed data. Inquiries from owners about this development were encouraged to be directed to their dealership or to Ford directly.

Advocating changes to current law, Brooks proposed that the agency should require more rigorous action than merely greenlighting recalls. He added that the agency seems to be examining recall remedies more closely in recent times. His concerns lie, however, in the fact that this post-remedy investigation may prolong the recall process, leaving customers in a state of uncertainty.