DETROIT: Ford is recalling the Escape small SUV again, this time to fix oil and fuel leaks that could cause engine fires.
The hot-selling SUV has been recalled seven times since it was redesigned and went on sale in the spring of 2012.
The first of two recalls affects more than 161,000 Escapes worldwide from the 2013 model year with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines.
Ford says the cylinder heads can overheat and crack, causing oil leaks.
Of those SUVs, fuel lines on about 12,000 may have been installed incorrectly. They could become chafed and leak gas. Many were repaired under a previous recall.
Ford says the oil leaks caused 13 fires but no injuries. There haven’t been any fires from the fuel line problems.
In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford said it began to get engine fire reports on Escapes in late August, and began investigating. Eventually it was able to duplicate the cylinder head cracking and decided to do a recall. During the investigation, Ford also found warranty claims of fuel line leaks and decided to repair them as well.
In some cases, the fuel lines may have been installed incorrectly by technicians in a previous fuel line recall, the documents said.
Auto safety advocates say the high number of recalls is out of the ordinary for a new model and a sign of quality problems.
But Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker disagreed. “We’re committed to providing our customers with top-quality vehicles and are equally committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly for our customers,” she said.
The redesigned Escape has been recalled seven times since July of 2012 to fix carpet padding that can interfere with the brake pedals, fuel lines that can crack, coolant leaks, and child safety locks.
Dealers will fix cooling and control systems or inspect and replace fuel lines for free. The recalls start in January.