Some Ford owners in Kentucky and around the country will be receiving recall notices in the coming weeks. The Michigan-based vehicle maker is recalling more than 570,000 cars, vans and SUVs in Europe and North America to replace defective door latches and remedy coolant issues that have been linked to a rash of engine fires. In a March 29 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Ford revealed that the recalls would reduce pretax earnings by $295 million.
Coolant issues have been found on vehicles equipped with Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost engines manufactured between 2010 and 2015. They include the Escape SUV, the Fiesta and Fusion sedans and the Transit Connect van. More than 360,000 of the vehicles involved were sold in North America, and they are being recalled because of overheating related to poor coolant circulation. Ford says that 29 engine fires may have been caused by hot oil escaping from cracked cylinder heads as a result. The company plans to fix the problem by having its dealers install coolant sensors and warning lights.
Issues with defective door latches have plagued Ford in recent years, prompting the recall of more than 3 million vehicles and triggering NHTSA investigations. The latest problem involves a defect that can cause doors to open while vehicles are in motion. About 211,000 Ford Fusion, Ford Fiesta and Lincoln MKZ vehicles are covered by the recall. Door latch recalls are said to have cost Ford $640 million in 2016 alone.
The costs associated with these recalls reveal how high the stakes can be when major manufacturers encounter product liability issues. While taking a proactive approach and tackling product defects head on can be costly, being held accountable in court after denying that problems exist can be ruinous to both bottom lines and brand images. Experienced personal injury attorneys may remind the defendants in product liability lawsuits of this as they encourage them to settle quickly and eschew the risks of a trial.