NHTSA opens probe on Ford Escape for sticky throttles image

Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that accelerator throttles can stick on older-model Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash.

The probe, announced Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, affects 730,000 SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years that are powered by V-6 engines.

Sixty-eight of the complaints were about the Escape, and 31 involved the Tribute, an almost-identical vehicle made by Ford for Mazda.

Investigators are looking into whether the sticky throttles could have been caused by repairs made as part of a 2004 recall of the same vehicles.

The agency’s summary of its investigation includes a reference to one death that occurred in January, 2012. Saige Bloom died after a crash in Payson, Arizona on January 27, 2012 when her car accelerated out of control.

In December 2004, Ford recalled 470,000 2002-2004 Escapes, describing an accelerator cable assembly defect that could cause the throttle to stick. That same month, Mazda, which sold a nearly identical vehicle, recalled 121,000 2002-2004 Tribute SUVs.

Neither Ford nor Mazda responded to inautonews’ s requests for comment.