WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - Ford Motor Co.’s Freestyle crossover is being investigated by U.S. regulators after 238 complaints about unintended “lunging” at low speeds when the driver’s foot isn’t on the gas pedal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating about 170,000 Freestyles, representing model years 2005 through 2007, after 18 crashes attributed to the defect, including one that resulted in a minor injury, the agency said Sunday in a posting on its website.
“We will fully cooperate with the government as they review this matter,” Ford spokesman Susan Krusel said.
For all cars sold in the U.S., the agency received 15,174 complaints involving unintended acceleration from 2000 through March 2010. The agency has conducted 141 investigations of unintended acceleration since 1980, closing 112 of them without corrective action, according to data compiled by NHTSA for Bloomberg News last year.
U.S. regulators and lawmakers last year investigated Toyota Motor Corp. for defects that could cause a car to speed up unexpectedly. Toyota identified floor mats that could jam accelerator pedals and pedals supplied by CTS Corp. that could stick as the causes of the incidents.
Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide since 2009 because of the flaws.
In the Ford recall posted on NHTSA’s website, what consumers have described as a “lunge,” can be stopped by applying the brakes, “but in some cases the vehicle has moved as much as 10 feet if the brake was not applied, lightly applied or applied late,” the agency said, citing complaints.
Consumers have reported movement in both forward and reverse gears and described it as “sudden and unexpected and generally brief in duration,” NHTSA said.
The reported injury was to a pedestrian in a residential driveway whose knee was bruised, NHTSA said. Reports indicate the lunges may be made worse when vehicles’ air conditioning is on or when the steering wheel is turned sharply, NHTSA said.
NHTSA documented 20 deaths related to claims of sudden acceleration in Ford vehicles going back to 1980, according to the data compiled for Bloomberg News last year. That compared with 51 fatalities for Toyota and 12 for Chrysler Group LLC.