Ford Motor Co. recalled almost 700,000 Escape SUVs and C-MAX hybrid cars to fix a defect that could prevent air bags from deploying in a rollover crash.
The resolution involves reprogramming vehicle software, not a mechanical repair, Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said in a statement today. The action includes 627,275 Escapes and 65,192 C-MAXes from the 2013 and 2014 model years. It applies to vehicles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
"Ford is committed to providing our customers with top quality vehicles," company spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. "We are equally committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly for our customers."
It's the latest in a series of recalls for the Escape and follows actions by multiple automakers over air-bag defects. General Motors Co., the largest U.S. automaker, is in the middle of recalling 2.59 million small cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, over a defective ignition switch that can lead to air-bag failure. That defect has been linked to at least 13 deaths.
In March, Nissan recalled almost 1 million cars, including the 2014 Altima sedan, because software can incorrectly classify a passenger seat as empty, leading to an air-bag failure. Faulty software was also cited in a petition to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking for a defect investigation into the Chevrolet Impala.
Separately from the air-bag issue, Ford recalled 692,744 Escapes to fix an exterior door-handle that can bind, preventing the latch from working, the company said. The doors come open while driving or during a crash, and they may be difficult to close.
Ford isn't aware of any crashes or injuries relating to the two defects. Dealers will reprogram all the vehicles in the air- bag recall and will inspect and repair Escape door handles at no cost to consumers.
In April, Ford recalled 348,950 Escapes from the 2001-04 model years over concerns that excessive corrosion could cause a lower control arm to fail. It also initiated a safety action covering 43,135 vehicles to fix 2013-14 Escapes, C-MAXes and two other models to fix seat weld joints and prevent failure in a crash.
In November, Ford recalled 139,917 U.S. model year 2013 Escapes to fix a fuel line that could chafe and leak.
Ford paid NHTSA a record $17.4 million civil penalty in August to settle allegations it delayed a recall involving unintended acceleration in the Escape carried out in July 2012. Regulators said Ford should have done the recall in May 2011.