DETROIT — U.S. safety regulators are looking into throttle problems in older Ford Escapes at the request of a consumer group.
The nonprofit North Carolina Consumers Council has asked federal regulators to investigate two complaints from drivers who say the small SUV stalled or surged forward.
The government will look at 1.6 million Escapes from the 2005 to 2012 model years. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decides to launch a formal investigation, it could lead to a recall of some of the popular SUVs.
Nonprofit safety groups and consumers can petition the government agency to investigate problems with cars and trucks, but most investigations start from the agency’s own review of driver’s complaints.
The government inquiry is one more sign of trouble for the Escape, which has been plagued by a series of safety-related recalls this year. Ford recently rolled out a redesigned Escape, but both new and old versions of the SUV have been recalled.
In the latest case, released by the agency Friday, the consumers council said that Ford has sent a number of advisories to dealers about Escapes stalling and surging. The so-called technical service bulletins are sent out to help mechanics spot problems and fix them. Such advisories are not recalls.
Ford said it will work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Escape has been recalled four times since July, with the 2013 version responsible for three recalls.
Problems with redesign
In September, Ford recalled new Escapes with 1.6-liter engines to fix coolant leaks that can cause engines to overheat or catch fire. The new Escape also was recalled twice in July. Ford recalled 11,500 of them to fix fuel lines that can crack and leak, and 10,000 more to fix carpet padding that can interfere with braking.
That same month, Ford recalled nearly 485,000 older Escapes to fix sticking gas pedals. The worldwide recall covered Escapes from the 2001 through 2004 model years that are powered by 3-liter V-6 engines with cruise control. Ford Motor Co. has said the recalls show that it’s responding quickly to problems, and that they are not a sign of quality issues.
Honda minivan, SUV
DETROIT — U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that Honda Odyssey Minivans and Pilot SUVs can roll away after drivers remove the ignition key.
The inquiry by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration affects more than 577,000 vehicles from the 2003 and 2004 model years that have automatic transmissions. The mechanism that locks the key in the ignition can fail. When that happens, drivers of the vans and SUVs are able to remove keys without shifting into park. Some have left the vehicles, and the vans or SUVs have rolled off unexpectedly.
Owners have filed 43 complaints with government agency, including 16 that resulted in crashes. Two people reported injuries.
In the most serious case, a driver reported a broken leg after being run over by his 2003 Odyssey. He parked the van in a sloped driveway. As he left it, the van started rolling backward, and the driver tripped while trying to stop it.
Hyundai hatchback sunroofs shatter
DETROIT — Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that sunroofs on the Hyundai Veloster hatchback can shatter and shower people with glass.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the inquiry affects about 18,000 cars from the 2012 model year.
Eleven drivers have complained to the agency about panoramic roofs shattering. Seven said the cars were in motion at the time.
The U.S. safety agency says shattering glass could distract the driver and injure people in the car. There were no complaints of crashes. The agency says a few people reported minor scratches from the glass.
The agency will figure out whether the problem is bad enough to require a recall.