Ford expands door handle recall to 156,000 vehicles

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Under government pressure, Ford Motor Co. said Friday it will expand a recall by another 156,000 vehicles 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 five recalls covering more than 1.55 million vehicles for door latch issues in the last year. The new recall covers the 2011 Fiesta vehicles and Ford said it was at the request of government regulators.

The expanded recall came after Ford initially told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week it planned a regional recall to address the problem. After a discussion Thursday between National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind and Ford officials, the Dearborn automaker agreed to an expanded recall of 390,000 vehicles.

On Tuesday, Rosekind said the agency was still reviewing whether the Dearborn automaker’s recall of 390,000 vehicles covered all the vehicles that could be faulty. He is meeting this week with Ford CEO Mark Fields in southeast Michigan, among other top executives at Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

“I want to have direct communication. If there are issues, I want to be able to call them or they can call me — that just doing this through headlines for example or reading a press release is not the way for us to talk about a recall issue or a defect,” Rosekind said in a Detroit News interview.

Last week’s 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.

Ford is aware of two allegations of soreness resulting from an unlatched door bouncing back when the customer attempted to close it. Dealers will replace all four door latches.

In March, Ford recalled 213,000 2011-13 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.

Last month, NHTSA upgraded an investigation into hundred of complaints of doors failing to latch or flying open into nearly 486,000 2011-13 Ford Fiesta cars. NHTSA launched a preliminary investigation. NHTSA said it has received 207 reports related to the alleged problem, with 65 claiming doors opened inadvertently while the vehicle was in motion.

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.

Also this week, Ford recalled another 590,000 vehicles in four separate campaigns — most for steering issues in 20 cold weather states.

The Dearborn automaker is calling back 518,000 2013-15 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles and 2015 Ford Edge vehicles in North America for steering gear motor attachment bolts that may break due to rust cracking. If the steering gear motor bolts break, the steering system may default to manual steering mode, making the vehicle more difficult to steer, especially at lower speeds. This would not result in a loss of steering, but could result in an increased risk of a crash.