by: Jim Strickland Updated:
ATLANTA - Ford Motor Company
said it will pay to replace a troublesome engine part highlighted in a Channel 2 Action News investigation in August.
Since February 2013, federal safety regulators have been investigating the electronic throttle body installed in certain model year Ford Fusion, Ford Escape and sister Mercury vehicles.
"You had to maneuver between the other cars. They don't know what's going on. You're just stopping," said Steve Walden, a local deputy and driver of an Escape.
During Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland's initial series of reports, Walden and his wife Beth described a harrowing ride on Interstate 285. They went from full speed to no speed while surrounded by
"I thought we were in total danger, being in the middle of the expressway and having no power," said Beth Walden.
Ford told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February 2013 that 27,000 warranty claims had been covered.
Now with the affected cars one year older and many more out of warranty, Ford is extending coverage on the part to 10 years or 150,000 miles. High mileage cars are covered until the January next year.
"This is a fantastic first step," said Atlanta defective products attorney Matt Wetherington.
Wetherington, who began a nationwide investigation after Strickland's first report, says Ford should go the next step and recall the cars rather than only service those that break.
"It is not saying, 'We're going to stop the problem from happening to begin with,'" he said.
The Waldens paid $644 to fix their Escape. After Strickland's story their dealer reimbursed the cost.
Other customers who have already paid for a replacement throttle body have to contact their dealers by July 31, 2014, to be reimbursed.