Fed probe sticky throttles in 1.9 million Ford sedans

By TOM KRISHER

DETROIT (AP) – Federal safety regulators are investigating sticky
accelerators in as many as 1.9 million Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started the probe last week and expanded it on Monday to include cars from the 2001 through 2006 model years. The safety agency has received 14 complaints of Taurus sedans accelerating on their own. So far it has no reports of crashes or injuries because of the problem.

A faulty cruise control cable may be the cause. It can detach and hold
the throttle open, the agency said in documents posted on its website. In at least two of the complaints, drivers told NHTSA that their cars took off and ran red lights before they were able to bring them to a stop by shifting them into neutral or park.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” one driver wrote in a complaint filed in August of 2010. “There needs to be something done about this before it becomes fatal.”

It’s a problem similar to one that tarnished Toyota Motor Corp. (TM)’s reputation about two years ago. The Japanese automaker eventually recalled 14 million vehicles worldwide because of acceleration problems, which it blamed on ill-fitting floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals. At the time NHTSA said at least 52 people were killed in crashes linked to Toyota’s acceleration problems.
A NHTSA investigation cleared Toyota’s electronic throttle controls as a cause of the problem.

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