• Ford and Mazda are recalling 630,000 SUVs
  • The 2001-04 Escape and 2001-08 Tribute are affected
  • The issue could cause the throttle to stick

Ford and Mazda will soon recall more than 630,000 units of their popular Escape and Tribute crossovers due to a throttle sticking hazard. The automaker and the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall, which affects six-cylinder models fitted with cruise control.

According to the automakers, the recall is necessary because the cruise control cable in V6-powered Escape or Tribute models can become bent or improperly positioned with use. When the gas pedal is pushed near the floor, the cable can catch on the plastic engine cover, which could cause the throttle to stick. Ford and Mazda also say the cruise control cable can become improperly positioned when the crossover is serviced - a problem which might have worsened during a 2004 recall that addressed an accelerator cable defect.

The NHTSA says that the recall stemmed from 68 separate complaints about the issue that were reported to the government agency. The problematic cable and resulting throttle problems might have caused up to 13 crashes, nine injuries, and the death of a 17-year-old Arizona girl who was driving a 2002 Escape.

The recall affects 420,000 Escape SUVs from the 2001 through 2004 model years, along with nearly 220,000 units of the 2001 through 2008 Tribute. Though the vehicles differ in appearance, they are manufactured in the same factory and share many mechanical parts. Mazda says its recall covers more model years than Ford's because the Tribute used a different engine cover that was more susceptible to the problem, while Ford switched to a smaller design for 2005.

Both automakers say they will soon begin mailing recall notices to owners of affected vehicles, urging them to come to a dealership for service. Although it will be several weeks before dealers have necessary engine cover fasteners to make room for the cruise control cable, the automakers say they will offer a temporary fix to concerned owners. That solution involves dealers temporarily disconnecting the cruise control, preventing the throttle from sticking. For more information, owners can contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332 or Mazda at 1-800-222-5500.

The latest recall is the third involving Ford's compact Escape SUV in July. The other two actions, which concerned a faulty fuel line and improperly installed carpet padding, involved the automaker's latest 2013 Escape model.

What it means to you: If you own a 2001-04 Escape V6 or a 2001-08 Tribute V6, consider scheduling an appointment with your dealer as soon as the recall notice arrives.

author photo

Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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