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NHTSA Investigates Ford Freestyle for Lunging Problems

Posted: May 16, 2011 10:18 a.m.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 170,000 Ford Freestyle crossovers after receiving complaints that the vehicles were “lunging” at low speeds. The federal agency reports that 238 people have complained of “unexpected vehicle movement when the driver’s foot is not on the accelerator,” possibly resulting in 18 crashes and one injury. The unexpected lurches seem to be occurring only at low speeds, and can happen in both forward and reverse gears. Pressing the brake pedal overrides the sudden acceleration, which may seems to be made worse when the air conditioning is on or the steering wheel is turned, according to Bloomberg.

The investigation is including Freestyle crossovers from model year 2005 to 2007, and was opened last week. However, the agency didn’t post any details about the probe on their website until this past weekend. Ford is also being investigated by NHTSA for fuel tank straps that could rust and cause the fuel tank to drop out of about 2.7 million Ford F-150s.

The only injury occurred in a driveway, where the car hit and bruised a pedestrian’s knee, according to NHTSA’s report. The pedestrian didn’t require medical attention. NHTSA hasn’t released any information about the 18 crashes that are suspected to be a result of the problem, except to say that they are minor. “NHTSA and the buying public have a heightened sense of concern with unintended acceleration after Toyota was forced to recall the bulk of its lineup over the last few years,” writes Left Lane News. “This Freestyle investigation differs in that vehicles appear to only accelerate unintentionally at low speeds and because an application of the brakes will stop vehicles.” Toyota was found not to be at fault in its first lawsuit of many regarding alleged instances of unintended acceleration.

Opening an investigation means that NHTSA is looking into the problem before deciding whether to require a recall. If your car is recalled, you can take it to your local dealer and they’ll fix the problem for free. If you want to find out whether your Ford Freestyle is included in the investigation, or to keep tabs on the investigation, you can visit NHTSA’s website for vehicle owners. If the agency does decide to recall the Freestyle, you can find out if your particular SUV is affected by calling NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153).

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