About 10 days ago, Ford announced a recall of 15 833 current-model Fusion sedans and 73 320 Escape crossover vehicles in the U.S. and Canada manufactured from 3 February 2012, through 29 November 2012 because their 1.6-liter engines could overheat and catch fire. Ford had received reports of 12 vehicles catching fire since the vehicles were first sold, a story at AutoWeek stated.
According to the 3 December recall notice, “the engines may overheat leading to fluid leaks that may come in contact with the hot exhaust system.” When Ford made the announcement, it had not isolated the cause of the problem, or, in the mistakes-were-made passive voice of the recall notice, “a remedy for this recall campaign is still under development.”
Ford told the Detroit News that it was working on a fix “which is designed to keep the fluids from reaching the hot exhaust components.” Until then, drivers were warned to pull to the side of the road and exit the vehicle if their instrument cluster indicated, “Engine power reduced to lower temps” or “Engine over temp, stop safely.” Ford promised to “compensate owners for costs tied to overheating the LA Times reported.
Well, according to a Ford press release on Monday, “an intensive, cross-discipline engineering team” discovered the root of the problem lay in “an original cooling system design [that] was not able to address a loss of coolant system pressure under certain operating conditions, [and] which could lead to a vehicle fire while the engine was running.”
To address the problem, Ford plans “software updates to the cooling system” which “will better manage engine temperatures during a unique overheating condition that could occur under unique operating conditions.”
Ford says it expects to have the software update at its dealerships by early next week, and that the fix should take less than half-day to complete. Until then, Ford is advising its Fusion and Escape owners affected by the recall “to contact their dealer to arrange for alternative transportation at no charge.”
In a massive vehicle recall that software can’t fix, Honda announced yesterday that it was recalling 318 000 2003-2004 Honda Odyssey and 259 000 Honda Pilot vehicles and some 230 000 2003-2006 Acura MDX vehicles because of faulty ignition interlocks. An article at the Detroit News states that, “The ignition cylinder park-shift interlock is supposed to prevent the key from being removed until the [automatic] transmission is shifted to park.”
However, some worn interlocks allowed drivers to pull out their keys without the car being shifted into park, even though they thought they had done so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it had received reports of 26 vehicles rolling away after keys were removed from the ignition interlock.
Honda says it is going to “remove the original interlock pin and lever and replace them with redesigned components,” although this won’t happen until next year, the Detroit News reports. Until then, owners of the recalled vehicles should make sure they engage their parking brake before exiting the vehicle.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.