Certain Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles are being recalled by the Michigan-based automaker across North America, as their steering wheels could come loose.
According to the company, 1,378,637 cars are being recalled, including 1,301,986 in the United States and federalized territories, 62,479 in Canada and 14,172 in Mexico.
The numbers include 2014-2017 Ford Fusions built at Flat Rock from August 6, 2013, to February 29, and the 2014-2018 Fusions and Lincoln MKZs assembled at Hermosillo, between July 25, 2013, and March 5, 2018.
“In the affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt may not maintain torque, allowing the bolt to loosen over time”, says the automaker. “If not serviced, a steering wheel could potentially detach, and lead to a loss of steering control and increased risk of a crash.”
Ford is actually aware of two accidents in which the steering wheel was detached. In one case, the company refers to “injury allegedly related to this condition”.
As for the recall process, owners will be notified over the next few weeks, and dealers will replace the steering wheel bolt with a longer one, free of charge.
A report from USA Today says that more than 45 complaints were logged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alleging that the steering wheel became loose. The news site listed 10 (condensed) complaints from Fusion owners:
1. Incident report: “While driving on interstate, steering wheel came loose and car veered off interstate. I regained control but steering wheel is still loose. Repairs will cost beyond my means at this moment.”
Date: Feb. 22, 2018
Reported: March 13, 2018
Location: Harriman, Tenn.
2.Incident report: “My 2014 Ford Fusion steering wheel became unstable and I drifted into a manhole in the street. And totaled my car.”
Date: Sept. 22, 2017
Reported: Nov. 1, 2017
Location: Madison, Ala.
3.Incident report: “While entering the vehicle, knee bumped the steering wheel and the steering wheel became detached.”
Date: March 5, 2018
Reported: March 6, 2018
4. Incident report: “While driving approximately 55 mph, the steering wheel detached from the steering column. Was able to re-attach the steering wheel. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that a bolt screw needed to be replaced.”
Date: Jan. 15, 2018
Reported: Jan. 19, 2018
5. Incident report: “My steering wheel has become very loose and feels like it’s going to fall off. I have video for proof.”
Date: Dec. 27, 2017
Reported: Dec. 29, 2017
Location: Chatsworth, California
6. Incident report: “I was driving in a parking lot in Scranton, Pa., and the steering wheel came so loose that it almost came right off. It scared me to the point where I did not want to drive my car.”
Date: Dec. 1, 2017
Reported: Dec. 4, 2017
Location: Archbald, Pa.
7. Incident report: “While driving, the steering wheel started to loosen. It almost felt like it was going to come off. I was traveling on I-94 from Milwaukee to the Chicago area, so it was flat road, good conditions. I dropped my speed to 55 as I was afraid to go the posted 70 mph with the steering wheel as it was. When I got home I had it towed to the dealer and they said the bolt inside the steering column was loose. They fixed it.”
Date: Nov. 28, 2017
Reported: Nov. 29, 2017
Location: Island Lake, Illinois
8. Incident report: “While driving approximately 55 mph, the steering wheel turned 360 degrees independently without warning. In addition, the steering wheel detached from the vehicle.”
Date: Nov. 24, 2017
Reported: Nov. 27, 2017
Location: Woodbridge, Va.
9. Incident report: “I was driving earlier this year, traveling down the interstate at 70 mph when my steering wheel came completely loose. I was able to get pulled over with no damage, but did have to get it to a dealership to have the steering wheel put back on properly.”
Date: May 20, 2017
Reported: Oct. 30, 2017
Location: Columbia, Tennessee
10. Incident report: “The steering became a little wobbly over the past two weeks and on Saturday while driving to Athens, I went to turn in gas station and the steering wheel fell off in my lap. My insurance agent happened to be riding in the dark when it happened as was my grandson. I have at least six other witnesses.”
Date: Sept. 23, 2017
Reported: Sept. 25, 2017
Location: East Dublin, Ga.
Second recall involves a fire risk
In a second safety campaign, Ford is calling back 2013-2016 Focus and 2013-2015 Fusion cars, with the 1.0-liter Fox GTDI engine and B6 manual transmission, for possible fire risk. The former were put together at Michigan, between July 21, 2014 and June 30, 2016, and the latter were produced at Hermosillo from March 9, 2012 and June 28, 2014.
The recall includes 5,872 units across North America, whose clutch plates could fracture. “Repeated high-energy clutch slip input, made while a driver changes gears, can lead to premature clutch lining wear, reducing the mechanical properties of pressure plate material”, explains Ford. “Repeated cyclic heating and cooling events may cause crash around the outer edge of the pressure plate.”
In extreme cases, the transmission fluid could leak, and in the presence of an ignition source, the engine bay could catch fire, although the company is not aware with any accidents or injuries related to this issue.
An exact notification schedule hasn’t been announced for this recall, but after scheduling an appointment with an authorized dealer, technicians will do the necessary repairs/replacements, at no cost to customers.
In the case of the Focus vehicles, these will be updated with a software that detects and prevents prolonged clutch slip, and get new clutches if necessary, while the Fusions will get new clutch assemblies.
Note: 2017 Ford Fusion Sport pictured