Ford to recall 485,000 SUVs to fix throttles after investigation

PHOENIX - Ford Motor Company is recalling nearly 500,000 SUVs on the heels of a series of reports by the ABC15 Investigators, our Scripps station in Phoenix.

The major automaker is issuing a recall on 484,600 Ford Escapes and Mavericks with 3-liter, V6 engines to fix sticking gas pedals that can cause vehicle crashes.

Ford says the vehicles' speed control cables can stick on the engine cover when the accelerator pedal is almost fully depressed. This causes the throttle to stick open and the vehicle to speed out of control.

The problem described by Ford is what the ABC15 Investigators uncovered under the hood of 17-year-old Saige Bloom's 2002 Ford Escape last month.

The Payson teenager was driving the Escape for the first time in January when the vehicle accelerated out of control . Saige avoided hitting any other cars until she clipped a grey sedan.  Her vehicle flipped three times and she was thrown from the car. Saige died in a hospital hours later.

The ABC15 Investigators were there when an inspector hired by the Bloom family's attorney went under the hood of that Escape for the first time. He found the vehicle's speed control cable broken, stuck under the engine cover, sticking the throttle wide open.

After our reporting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into 730,000 2001-2004 Ford Escapes and its sister SUV, the Mazda Tribute for possible stuck throttle issues.

Now, Ford tells the ABC15 Investigators that drivers of the affected vehicles should not fully or almost fully depress their accelerator pedals until the vehicle is repaired.

If drivers do experience a stuck throttle, Fords tells us that they should "firmly and steadily apply the brakes without pumping the brake pedal, shift to neutral, steer the vehicle to a safe location, shut the engine off and place the transmission in "park" after the vehicle is safely stopped.

NHTSA tells the ABC15 Investigators today that the agency is in contact with Ford regarding its recall. "Consumers impacted by the recall should have their vehicles serviced promptly," the agency tells us.

NHTSA also says that its investigation into this issue remains open "pending the agency's review of the documents provided by Ford in its recall action."

NHTSA's investigation is also focusing on 2001-2004 Mazda Tributes, which were built with the same engine on the same assembly line as the Escape.

Mazda tells the ABC15 Investigators that they are having meetings about the Ford recall right now and will have more information Friday.

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