02 June 2010

Ford Fusion faces Gas Pedal Probe

USA Today

Federal safety officials say they have begun an investigation into the potential for floormat-related unintended acceleration in 2010 Ford Fusion and the nearly identical Mercury Milan mid-size sedans.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received three complaints of what is officially called "pedal entrapment" by all-weather floormats in the vehicles. As many as 249,301 cars could be involved, NHTSA estimated. No injuries or deaths are listed as a result of the incidents.

Ford says the mats involved were Ford accessory mats. Ford says its all-weather accessory mats come with an attachment to secure them so they don't slide forward and trap the gas pedal, and the driver's mats are printed with a warning that they shouldn't be stacked atop other mats. Ford says it will cooperate with the NHTSA investigation.

Edmunds.com went through an eye-opening incident in one of its own Fusion test cars after a car wash or a body shop worker took the rubber floor mat out of the trunk and put it back into the driver-side footwell on top of the carpet mat.

Ordinarily, just three complaints might be too few for NHTSA to take notice. But ill-fitting floormats jamming open gas pedals is blamed for a majority of Toyota's infamous unintended acceleration problem.

Toyota has recalled 5.4 million vehicles in the U.S. because improperly fitting mats can slide forward and trap poorly designed gas pedals against the floor. The automaker says it has fixed 1.7 million of the vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration release Tuesday tells Fusion and Milan owners not to place any unsecured floor mats, whether made by Ford or any after-market retailer, on top of the carpeted floor mat in the driver's side foot well. In addition, all owners should ensure that any mat is properly secured and never stacked.

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