Ford Motor Company claims that it is unclear whether its cruise control switches are fault for over 560 reported fires and explosions in Ford vehicles. Many of these fires broke out when vehicles were parked in family garages, destroying homes and lives. In cases like this numbers reported are only a fraction of what has actually occurred, but Ford claims to be doing its best to determine cause of fires and refuses to declare cruise control switch at fault. Here are facts:
More than 16 million Ford vehicles have rolled out of lots installed with a cruise control switch that is designed not to switch off. This switch remains hot and powered, even when car is parked. Only a thin metal sheet separates switch from brake fluid line, and only a little extra heat can cause switch to combust, dripping flaming fluid over all plastic components, resulting in a full-blown hood fire that is very difficult to extinguish. Many owners have reported explosions, both while driving Ford vehicles and after parking them.
In May of 1999, Ford issued a recall on Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Town Car models from 1992-1993. A second recall issued in January of 2005 affected 800,000 vehicles including all 2001 F-Series Super Crews and all year 2000 Expeditions, Navigators, and F-150 Pickups. Even these massive recalls have not solved problem. As recently as this month reports have come in of vehicle fires in models not covered by recall. A 1999 Expedition caught fire in a family garage after 3 Ford dealerships refused to replace its cruise control switch. Federal investigators are now looking at 3.7 million Ford trucks and SUV’s to determine extent of danger. This Federal investigation only covers a quarter of vehicles that could be affected.
A Ford document obtained by CNN showed that same or similar switch was installed in a total of 16 million vehicles, including:
Mark VII/VIII from 1994-1998
Taurus/Sable and Taurus SHO 2.3 L 1993-1995
Explorer without IVD 1995-2003
Explorer Sport/Sport Trac 2002-2003
The NHTSA says that of over 560 complaints of spontaneous, non-collision fires, 253 involved unrecalled models. Some cruise control switches that combust malfunction beforehand, but many owners did not observe a problem until their trucks exploded in garage and burned down their homes. Because power flows to switch when vehicle is turned off, many of these fires broke out in middle of night, hours after anybody touched Ford trucks.