Ford recalls 390,000 cars for faulty door latches

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Ford Motor Co. said late Friday it will recall 390,000 cars for faulty door latches linked to two minor injuries and one accident — the latest in a series of call backs for door latch issues.

Since 2014, Ford has now issued at least four recalls covering more than 1.4 million vehicles for door latch issues in the last year.

The recall came after Ford initially told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier it planned a regional recall to address the problem. After a discussion Thursday between senior NHTSA and Ford officials, the Dearborn automaker agreed to an expanded recall, an agency official told The Detroit News Friday.

"In response to a thorough NHTSA investigation that demonstrated a clear risk to safety, Ford is taking important action to protect its customers. We are pleased that Ford is taking this proactive step for safety," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement.

Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker declined to comment on the company's initial recall plan, but said the automaker had continued to cooperate with NHTSA. This is the latest example of NHTSA's tougher stance with automakers in recent months.

Ford's latest recall covers 389,585 2012-14 Ford Fiesta and 2013-14 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars. Ford says the door latch in these vehicles may experience a broken pawl spring tab, which typically results in a condition where the door will not latch. If a user latches the door, there is potential the door may unlatch while driving, increasing the risk of injury.

Ford is aware of two allegations of soreness resulting from an unlatched door bouncing back when the customer attempted to close it, and one accident allegation when an unlatched door swung open and struck an adjacent vehicle as the driver was pulling into a parking space. The recall includes nearly 337,000 vehicles in the United States, 30,000 in Canada and 22,000 in Mexico.

Dealers will replace all four door latches.

In March, Ford recalled 213,000 2011-2013 Ford Explorer SUVs and Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in North America because the spring that controls the interior door handles may prevent the door from latching completely. Ford said it was a different issue than the new recall.

In January, Ford recalled 204,945 2010-13 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Police Interceptor vehicles for the same issue. In May 2014, Ford recalled 692,744 2013-2014 Escapes for a different door handle issue..

Last month, NHTSA upgraded an investigation into hundred of complaints of doors failing to latch or flying open into nearly 486,000 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta cars — as well as the 2013 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ.

NHTSA launched a preliminary investigation last year into 2011-13 Fiestas. NHTSA said it has received 207 reports related to the alleged problem, with 65 claiming doors opened inadvertently while the vehicle was in motion.

Two injuries were reported, both caused by a rebounding door striking a person after they attempted to close it.

Ford told NHTSA that the 2013 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ use the same door latch as the Fiestas NHTAS has received 11 reports on these vehicles, with four allegations of inadvertent opening. NHTSA added those models to its investigation.

The automaker said it has 451 reports related to the problem. One involved an incident in which a door opened while driving at low speed and struck another vehicle. Ford said it has 1,079 warranty claims related to door latch failures.

Ford told NHTSA "it does not believe that a latched door experiencing this condition will inadvertently unlatch and that there are many overt warnings associated with a door that does not latch."

NHTSA noted that the rate of occurrence for this failure is comparable to other door latch failure investigations and questions the effectiveness of warning signals, given the number of complaints alleging that doors