by: Jim Strickland Updated:ATLANTA —
Ford Motor Company said it is cooperating with federal regulators investigating trouble with vehicles stalling out, but the company is refusing to answer questions from Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland.
Strickland tried to find out why customers are getting stuck with the repair bills for a part which is now part of a recall investigation.
"What was it about the Ford Escape that attracted you to this car in the first place?" Strickland asked owner Beth Walden.
"American. They didn't take a bailout," Walden said.
Walden and her husband, Deputy Steve Walden of Newton County, had to bail out on Interstate 285 near Stone Mountain Freeway.
The Waldens said they dodged
semitrailers along the way in a weave to the side of the road after their Escape lost power.
"When this throttle body quits, you're giving it gas, but it's not reading the amount of fuel it needs, and that's what they had to replace," Steven Walden said.
Federal regulators began an investigation in February with 182 complaints on file. Strickland counted more than 1,800 now.
In February, Ford told regulators they had done 27,000 warranty repairs on the part. They refused to update the number for Strickland.
Walden's warranty was up, costing him a $644 repair bill.
"They know it's a problem and people are depending on their products, yet we've having to pay out of pocket to get this fixed," he said.
Rome service manager Chris Farrer has had up to five customers waiting.
"How hard is it to get that part?" Strickland asked.
"They've been few and far between recently," Farrer said. "They said they had the one and I was lucky."
Ford refused to answer why the company is not extending warranty coverage for all customers, and why some dealers are waiting days for parts.
"We are cooperating with NHTSA on this investigation, as we always do," is the one-line statement Strickland received from a Ford spokesperson.