On Tuesday, Ford Motor Company announced a recall of 4.5 million vehicles that may pose a fire hazard resulting from faulty cruise-control deactivation switches. The recall will include all Ford cars and trucks equipped with cruise-control switches manufactured by Texas Instruments (TI). 1.1 million Windstar vans (model years 1995-2003) have been identified as posing a safety risk but Ford has decided to recall all vehicles equipped with TI switches.
The announcement comes just weeks after Toyota announced its own safety recall of some 3.8 million vehicles due to faulty or improperly installed floor mats that have resulted in about 100 accidents including four fatalities.
According to Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesman, “We did this to reassure customers and make sure there will be no future actions connected to this. We’ve gone to extra lengths to include both vehicles with risks and those that don’t show risk.”
The current recall is the largest in U.S. history and is Ford’s eighth recall involving defective cruise-control deactivation switches. The recalls have involved approximately 14 million vehicles that are currently on the roads according to Sherwood. He said that an additional 2 million effected vehicles are no longer in operation, having been scrapped by their owners over nearly two decades.
In June 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated its investigation of Ford’s faulty cruise-control switches in response to 653 customer complaints. Of those reports, 72 alleged that the switches caused fires according to the NHTSA.
The suspect switches, which cost about $20 each, were supplied by TI for use in Ford vehicles between 1992 and 2003 according to Sherwood.
Distancing the company and its current management from the series of safety recalls, Sherwood said, “There’s no link between people associated with the development of this part and where Ford is going today. We’re in a completely different place.”
Sherwood declined to say how much the recalls have cost Ford or whether or not the company has considered litigation or sought monetary compensation from Texas Instruments
He also declined to estimate the costs involved with the Ford recalls or say whether the automaker has sought compensation from Texas Instruments or initiated legal action against them.
Texas Instruments has denied culpability. “The switch is only one component of Ford’s cruise-control deactivation system, and is not the root cause of the fires,” said TI spokeswoman Kim Morgan. “The company continues to have confidence in the safe design of the switch itself,” she said and added that, in 2006, the division that made the switches was acquired by Sensata Technologies.