Ford recalls 1.4M cars over control, fire issues

Ford Focus and Fusion, Lincoln MKZ recalled for steering, clutch problems

Published: March 14, 2018, 9:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:02 PM

2017 Ford Fusion

Ford is issuing safety recalls in North America for about 1.38 million cars to remedy potential steering wheel detachments in Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, and risk of fire in Fusion and Ford Focus models.

On 2014-18 Fusions and MKZs, steering wheel bolts may lose their torque over time to the point that they fall off, allowing the steering wheel to detach from the steering column. Naturally, if that were to happen, the driver would lose steering control over the car, which could potentially crash. Ford is aware of two incidents, resulting in one injury.

The recall affects 1,378,637 sedans, with 62,479 in Canada, 1,301,986 in the US and federalized territories, and 14,172 in Mexico.

Dealers will replace the steering wheel bolt with a longer bolt, featuring a larger nylon patch, which combined will result in better thread engagement and torque retention.

Fusion is also named in another recall, in connection with the clutch on the 6-speed manual transmission on 2013-15 cars fitted with the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine. The recall also affects 2013-16 Ford Focus models fitted with the same transmission and the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine. The recall affects 5,872 vehicles, with the bulk in the US and just 515 in Canada.

Repeated high-energy clutch slip during gear changes can lead to premature clutch lining wear, reducing the mechanical properties of the pressure-plate material and potentially resulting in cracks around the outer edge of the plate (due to repeated heating and cooling). That, in turn, could lead to reduction in torque and increased (excessive!) clutch slip, which would subject the pressure plate to tremendous amounts of energy and heat. That might lead to structural failure or fracture of the pressure plate allowing transmission fluid to leak out. And, in the presence of an ignition source, that could lead to an underhood fire.

Ford is not aware of any incidents related to the issue, but will have dealers inspect and replace the clutch as needed, and also update software to detect prolonged clutch slip.