Nearly six years after their manufacture, the 2005 and 2006 Ford Taurus are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after the agency received owner complaints of runaway vehicles or sticking throttles.
At least 14 complaints have been filed with NHTSA alleging that the Taurus’ throttle became stuck open. Drivers subsequently complained of burning brakes (as a result of trying to brake a car at full-throttle) or being forced to shift the car into neutral -- at which point the engine would race to about 4000 rpm. Others said they were forced to shut off the car. No accidents or fatalities were reported to NHTSA, although one driver did run a red light and hit speeds of nearly 70 mph as a result of the problem.
The culprit, most complaints allege, is that the Taurus' cruise control cable can become detached, which results in a stuck throttle (2005-2006 Taurus models used an older throttle and cruise control setup, which was not purely electronic but partially mechanical). Some of the complaints say that the problem could be remedied in the short term by tapping the gas pedal, and most say the problem did not go away until a Ford dealer or mechanic replaced the cable entirely.
A Ford official tells us the company has received notification of the investigation from NHTSA, and will fully cooperate with the agency as it conducts research. If a full recall is ultimately deemed appropriate by either the agency or the automaker, it could include roughly 360,000 vehicles.
UPDATE: According to The Detroit News, the NHTSA has expanded its probe into sticky throttles to also include the 2001-2005 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable models, which now means a total of 1.92 million vehicles will be investigated. The NHTSA is playing it safe by looking at similar vehicles, which Lynda Tran, spokesperson for the NHTSA, says is a common practice during a preliminary investigation. Ford spokesman Daniel Piece also told The Detroit News that the automaker is fully cooperating.
Source: NHTSA, The Detroit News