In a deal to close a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has agreed to conduct a “customer satisfaction campaign” to inspect and fix at no charge any problems found related to reports of a sticky throttle in certain Taurus and Mercury Sable vehicles from model years 2000 to 2003. The NHTSA and Ford had received 100 complaints against cars equipped with the company’s three-liter, four-valve Duratec V-6 engines.
Five accidents were reported due to the sticky throttle, but no injuries occurred. The problem is the result of a throttle cable being damaged during maintenance. Dealers will inspect the cables, add reinforcement to existing retention tabs that hold the cable in place, or replace the entire cable is the retention tabs are missing.
Problems related to sticking accelerator pedals or throttles are very often the result of driver error. Instead of stepping on the brake, drivers get confused and step on the gas. Volkswagen’s sticky Audi accelerator issues in the late 1980s were attributed mostly to driver error, as were the more recent problems when Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) had with similar complaints.
Ford learned a lesson from Volkswagen and, especially, Toyota: If it ain’t broke, don’t fight it — fix it.