ATLANTA - Complaints are piling up about Ford's most popular sedan. More than 1,000 drivers say their cars can go from 60 to zero in an instant.
Federal regulators are trying to decide whether they ought to recall the 2010 and 2011 Ford Fusion, over a problem that leaves them powerless.
"There's something really wrong with this car," said Fusion owner Robin Phillips of Rome, who said she watched it happen as her son was driving to college two weeks ago. "It'll slow down to where you can't get above 2-3 mph. The engine shakes violently."
"Scary?" asked Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland.
"It's terrifying," Phillips said.
Service adviser Chris Farrer of Courtesy Ford in Rome showed Strickland the issue.
"It's the electronic throttle body, which is housed right here," Farrer said.
The throttle body is the electronic pathway between the gas pedal and the engine. The pathway gets blocked when the part fails.
"The accelerator will go down, but
RPMs will not happen," Farrer said.
Regulators and Ford have logged more than 1,000 complaints. Consumer advocates in North Carolina convinced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin an investigation, but in six
months, the case hasn't moved past the preliminary stage.
The Ford Escape and other models are covered too; more than 700,000 cars in all.
Ford wrote a lengthy account of the issue after regulators began to investigate.
A letter dated May 10 concludes, "Ford does not believe that a vehicle experiencing a throttle body
issue presents an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety."
"I think it's pretty dangerous if you lose power what if you're in the middle of an intersection and your car won't accelerate at all. You can get T-boned," said Phillips, who had to wait 10 days for a replacement part.
"I've had as many as four to five on back order at one time," Farrer said.
"At a small dealership like this?" Strickland asked.
"Yes sir," Farrer answered.
The feds won't comment on an ongoing investigation. Ford did not respond to our messages by deadline, but did respond to Phillips being out of warranty.
"This is about a $650 repair. She's going to have to pay zero because Ford's going to reimburse us for repairing it," said Farrer.