Safety group seeks probe of Mazda Tribute for unintended acceleration
A safety group is warning the cruise control cables on certain Mazda Tributes may have been damaged during recall repairs that sought to prevent accelerator cables from getting caught on the accelerator pedals.
The Center for Auto Safety filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for an investigation into nearly 85,000 Mazda Tributes at risk of sudden acceleration because of faulty recall repairs on cruise control cables.
The petition filed Friday covers 2002-04 Tributes and comes just days after a similar filing for about 320,000 Ford Escapes -- described as the Tribute's twin in the petition -- from the same model years.
The companies issued recalls of the SUVs in January 2005.
According to the safety group, the cruise control cables on the vehicles may have been damaged during recall repairs that sought to prevent accelerator cables from getting caught on the accelerator pedals.
If the cruise control cable guides are damaged during the repairs, they could get jammed against a ridge in the engine cover and cause sudden unintended acceleration, according to the petition.
Mazda said it needed to review the petition and was not prepared to comment further.
"As always, we will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in any investigation," the company added in a statement.
Ford said it is investigating the matter but hasn't reached any conclusions.
Ford has come under fire from the center because the group claims the company knew about potential damages from the recall, citing an October 2005 bulletin sent to dealers containing "updated illustrations" and a "warning regarding the correct procedures to follow when replacing the accelerator cable" that were different from an earlier bulletin.
The center said in Friday's petition that Mazda -- unlike Ford -- didn't send out an updated repair bulletin to its dealers, "but there is no reason to believe Mazda dealers would be any better at avoiding damage to the cruise control cable than Ford dealers."
As of July 12, NHTSA had received 55 complaints on the 2002-04 Tribute in the vehicle speed control portion of its complaint database.
The center says Ford's inaction had "lethal consequences" in the death of 17-year-old Saige Bloom, who died in a January accident after her 2002 Escape experienced sudden unintended acceleration in Payson, Ariz.
The vehicle was repaired in January 2005 after the initial recall, but before Ford issued a new bulletin to dealers about updated repair methods, according to the petition.
It was later found that the vehicle had a "kinked" cruise control cable that was jammed against a ridge in the engine cover, according to the petition.
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