Ford recalls nearly 1.4 million cars in North America because the steering wheels can come off from the steering column and drivers could lose control.
The recall will include some Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars from the 2014 through the 2018 model years. Dealers are going to replace the bolts with longer ones that have more sturdy threads and a nylon patch to stop them from coming loose.
Ford has said steering wheel bolts can loosen over time. The company says it knows of two crashes and one injury that were thought to be related to the problem.
In the US just over 1.3 million cars are being recalled. The rest will be from Canada and Mexico.
Pressure from US regulators
Five months ago the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started an investigation into steering wheels falling off from fusions from the 2014 through 2016 model years.
The agency said in the documents that it began the investigation after receiving three complaints. One of the complaints involved a driver from Georgia who reported that the steering wheel in a 2015 Fusion fell into their lap when going into a gas station.
Two other people also said that the bolt which attached the wheel to the steering column came loose while driving. It had to be retightened at a repair shop. At the time the agency did not have reports of crashes or injuries.
Additional recall for 6,000
In addition, Ford is recalling approximately 6,000 additional cars for a fracture in the clutch pressure plate which could pose a fire risk.
The vehicles affected in the second recall are 2013-16 Ford Focus with 1.0-liter Fox GTDI engines and B6 manual transmissions, and 2013-15 Ford Fusion with 1.6-liter Sigma GTDI engines and B6 manual transmissions.
“In affected vehicles, repeated high-energy clutch slip input made while a driver changes gears can lead to premature clutch lining wear, reducing the mechanical properties of pressure plate material. Repeated cyclic heating and cooling events may cause cracks around the outer edge of the pressure plate.” Ford said.
“Torque capacity reduction due to clutch lining wear can cause excessive slip, introducing a large amount of energy and heat into the pressure plate. Structural failure or fracture of the pressure plate eventually may occur. Leaking transmission fluid near an ignition source can lead to the risk of an engine compartment fire.”
The recall is going to involve approximately 5,872 vehicles in North America with 5,357 in the US and 515 in Canada, Ford said.
Dealers are going to update Focus vehicles with software which will detect and prevent prolonged clutch slip. They will also evaluate the clutch for wear and replace if necessary. Fusions are going to be updated with a new clutch assembly without any extra cost to customers.
In February, car manufacturer Hyundai also issued a recall for steering wheels coming off. The company recalled 43,900 vehicles which were at risk of the steering wheel breaking away from the steering column. The recall affected the 2018 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs.