Safety Group Calling for Investigation of Mazda Tribute, Ford Escape for Unintended Acceleration

In a petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last Friday, the Center for Auto Safety has called for the recall of nearly 85,000 Mazda Tribute SUVs it claims are at risk of unintentional acceleration.

In the filing, the group warned that cruise control cable guides may have been damaged during recall repairs on the model years 2002-04 vehicles which were done to prevent sudden acceleration caused by faulty accelerator pedals and cables.

Just days before, the Center filed a separate petition with the NHTSA which called for an investigation of about 320,000 Ford Escapes for the same problem.

Mazda and Ford issued safety recalls of these vehicles in January 2005.

The Center claims that Ford has been less than forthright concerning the potential problems caused during the 2005 recall. In a bulletin Ford sent to dealers concerning recall repairs in October 2005, the automaker included a revised illustration and procedures that were different from those included in an earlier bulletin.

The Center also claims that Ford’s failure to address problems caused during the initial recall lead to the death of a 17-year-old motorist from Payson, Arizona.  Saige Bloom was killed when her 2002 Ford Escape unexpectedly accelerated out of control last January.  Bloom’s Escape was repaired in January 2005, prior to Ford issuing the revised repair bulletin. According to the Center, the cruise control cable in Blooms vehicle had become jammed against a ridge in the engine cover, causing the vehicle to suddenly accelerate out of control.

Although there is no evidence that Mazda sent updated bulletins to its dealers, the petition claims “there is no reason to believe Mazda dealers would be any better at avoiding damage to the cruise control cable than Ford dealers.”

As of last Thursday, the NHTSA had received 55 complaints about speed control problems with 2002-04 Mazda Tributes.

Ford is conducting its own investigation into the matter, and in a statement Mazda said it is reviewing the petition. The company also said it will “cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in any investigation.”

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