The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is stepping up its investigation of floormats in Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models to now include the Lincoln MKZ, bringing the potential total number of vehicles affected to 480,000, up from the prior investigation into 249,000 Fusion and Milan models. The initial investigation was announced in 2010. The status of the investigation has been raised to an engineering analysis, which could potentially result in a full-fledged recall.
Ford and NHTSA have received 52 complaints about difficulty braking and the accelerator sticking after accelerating to pass another vehicle. A “heel blocker” in the floorpan was identified as a potential culprit in raising unsecured floor mats to interfere with the accelerator. No deaths or injuries have been reported in conjunction with the issue.
Ford said it is ‘disappointed’ in the agency’s decision, since the stepped-up probe involves improperly installed floor mats. The driver’s side floormat carries a warning to drivers not to double-stack floormats, and to use properly secured mats. Most of the incidents reportedly involved all-weather Ford accessory or third-party floormats that were not secured.
Following the unintended acceleration incidents that affected hundreds of thousands of Toyota models, the agency is likely taking no chances following up on similar reports, even if improper customer installation is to blame.