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A Partial History of Ford Motor Company's Incendiary Problem and Recalls
by James Bleeker

A history of the highlights of Ford's incendiary problem through May of 2008 appears in the following table.

Partial Chronology of Events regarding Ford Motor Company's Cruise-Control Deactivation Switch and Reported Fires
November 2004 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commences an investigation of Ford pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles after 36 reports of fire.
January 2005 In the U.S., Ford Motor Company issues a safety recall of 750,000 2000 Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Ford Expedition sport utility vehicles, and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles for replacement of the cruise control deactivation switch.
March 2005 NHTSA expands its investigation to include 3.7 million 1995-1999 and 2001-2002 Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Ford Expedition sport utility vehicles, and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles based on 218 complaints of engine-area fires.
May 2005 KPRC of Houston, Texas reports that a local fire marshal's office confirmed that a fire originated in the engine-area of a 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck and that a safety expert recommends parking a Ford vehicle currently under investigation by NHTSA for an increased risk of fire well away from the home.
June 2005 The Tampa Tribune reports two lawsuits alleging fires resulting from the cruise control deactivation switch and the Associated Press reports a lawsuit against Ford alleging that its deactivation switch caused the conflagration of a home and the wrongful death of an elderly Iowan woman.
July 2005 NHTSA sets a deadline for some answers from Ford and NHTSA officials say that now more than 500 fires have been reported in Ford vehicles and state that 16 million Ford vehicles may have the same or similar cruise control deactivation switch, per Detroit News.
KIRO 7 of Washington state reports two 1998 Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle fires and one Washington lawsuit involving an unspecified Ford fire. The
article provides a good description of the speed of conflagration and a good photograph of the hulk remaining after incineration.
September 2005 Ford Motor Company announces a safety recall of 3.8 million 1994-2002 Ford F-150 pickup trucks, 1997-2002 Ford Expedition sport utility vehicles, 1998-2002 Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles, and 1994-1996 Ford Bronco sport utility vehicles (when the last was factory-equipped with cruise control) for the cruise-control-caused fire hazard.
December 2005 Ford announces that the wiring harness - a circuit breaker of sorts - that it plans to insert to prevent engine fires in its sport utility vehicles and pickups will not be available until February 2006.
August 2006 Ford Motor Company announces a safety recall of an additional 1.2 million 1994-2002 F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 F-Super Duty pickup trucks, 2000-2002 Ford Excursion sport-utility vehicles, 1994-1996 Econoline vans, 1996-2002 E-450 vans, and 1998 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicles for the cruise-control-caused fire hazard.
April 2007 Ford Motor Company announces a safety recall of an additional 155,584 2002-2003 E-550 vans, 2003 F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 pickups, 2003 Excursion sport-utility vehicles, and 2003 Lincoln Blackwood pickups for its cruise-control deactivation switch that may corrode, overheat, and cause a fire.
August 2007 Ford Motor Company announces a safety recall of an additional 3.6 million 1998-2002 Ford Ranger pickup trucks, 1992-1997 Lincoln Town Cars, 1992-1997 Ford Crown Victorias, 1992-1997 Mercury Grand Marquises, 1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIIIs, 1993-1995 Ford Taurus SHOs, 1999-2001 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicles, 2001-2002 Ford Explorer Sport sport-utility vehicles, 2001-2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac crew cab pickup trucks, 1992-1993 E150-350 vans, 1997-2002 E150-350 vans, 1993 F-Series pickups, 1993 Ford Bronco sport-utility vehicles, 1994 Mercury Capris, 2003-2004 Ford F-150 Lightning pickup trucks, and 1995-2002 Ford F53 motor homes.
February 2008 Ford Motor Company announces re-recall of 225,000 1992-2003 Ford Econoline vans, 1993-1995 Ford Taurus SHOs, 1992-1998 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis large cars, 1992-1995 Lincoln Town Cars, 1993 Ford Bronco sport-utility vehicles, and 1993 and 1995-1997 F-Series pickup trucks to replace defective wiring harnesses that Ford has offered as a fix to its incendiary problem.
March 2008 Ford's Texan lawsuits are consolidated.
May 2008 NHTSA launches an investigation into the engine-compartment fires of Ford's Windstar minivan.
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Note: While about 16 million vehicles were reported to have a cruise-control deactivation switch similar or identical to that within the recalled vehicles, only 9-to-10 million of the 16 million have been recalled, so this saga may have a long life to come.

Disclosure      Site manager is currently a very small shareholder of Ford Motor Company (2010-04-27). I am not, and have not been, a shareholder of any other motor vehicle manufacturer.

A PDF file of this page is available for downloading.

Note      Although this site was created using software by Microsoft, you may encounter difficulty in downloading a PDF file from this page using Internet Explorer. However, with Mozilla Firefox, there should be no difficulty, and the download should be speedy.

AutoOnInfo.net: The auto-quality website with the Open Directory Cool Site Award.

 

Additional Resources

Detailed information on auto reliability and car, truck, brand, and manufacturer quality, as well as changes in U.S. car and light vehicle market shares, are given in the car guides below. These are available as Kindle ebooks and may be purchased for a small fee on Amazon.com. Links to the Amazon pages offering the books are provided.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

Volume 3 of AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series offers quality ratings on car and truck models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With these measures of performance, this e-guide brings to the aid of auto consumers a convenient, anywhere, anytime source of automobile information on enduring reliability. As a further aid, this book provides graphs depicting both automobile brand and manufacturer spectral signatures and density functions.

Ratings and rankings of vehicle models, brands, and manufacturers are for North American model years 2002 to 2005 when the cars and trucks were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and Grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include small cars, family cars, upscale cars, luxury cars, sport cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. For each of these body styles, the best and the worst are listed in separate chapters.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

AutoOnInfo.net's Car Quality Series, Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

This volume of AutoOnInfo.net’s car guide series offers consumers and researchers an historical summary of the reliability and durability of car and truck brands and examines how these brands have fared in their U.S. market shares. It uses 6-year-old model entries in Consumer Reports’ Used Car to Avoid – also termed Vehicles to Avoid and Worst Cars, Year by Year – and CR’s reliability charts to ascribe quality grades to automobile brands for model-year groups 1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, 1995 to 1999, 2000 to 2004, 2005 to 2006, and 1985 to 2006. In addition to ascribing quality grades to each brand, it provides a chart that plots the number of the brand’s 6-year-old model entries in CR’s vehicles to avoid. To examine the effect that a brand’s reliability and durability has had on sales, two or more charts depicting the brand’s U.S. market shares for calendar years 1985 to 2009 are given. These grades and charts and the author’s comments impart an historical perspective that sheds light on the present condition of surviving vehicle lines and their future prospects, individual and institutional shortcomings, and what effect these may have on the U.S.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide offers quality ratings on car models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With this guide, GPAs and grades, familiar by common-place use in educational settings, are brought to the aid of car consumers seeking a convenient, any-where, any-time source of automobile information on enduring reliability. Car models rated are from North American model years 1999 to 2002 when the cars were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include convertibles, coupes, sedans, wagons, hatchbacks, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

Also visit www.CarsOnInfo.net and www.CarQualityInfo.net for more car and truck quality tables, charts, graphs, and information.