US reviews Ford recall of cars prone to overheating, fires
By TOM KRISHER, AP AUTO WRITER
The U.S. government's auto safety agency is reviewing a Ford Motor Co. recall of thousands of cars, SUVs and vans that can run low on coolant and potentially overheat and catch fire after the company proposed a remedy that doesn't fix the coolant problem.
Ford notified the agency about the recall, which has caused 29 engine fires, in paperwork dated last week. The automaker said it would install a sensor that warns owners when coolant is low in the 1.6-Liter turbocharged engines. The sensor does not solve the underlying problem of vanishing coolant.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday it is reviewing the recall. "The agency will take appropriate action as necessary," an agency spokeswoman said in a statement. She would not provide further details. The agency confirmed the review after The Associated Press raised questions about Ford's remedy.
NHTSA could determine that the fix solves the fire problem, or it could open an investigation to see if more repairs are needed.
Experts say coolant shouldn't become depleted in newer cars, and that Ford may be cutting costs by shifting responsibility for the problem to owners. Coolant could be leaking from a number of places, or the engine could be burning it, both of which could cause significant engine trouble down the road — especially if owners don't religiously watch coolant levels and act immediately if they get low.