After an initial investigation launched in 2010 that involved 249,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models for floormats interfering with the accelerator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now added the Lincoln MKZ to the probe, and elevated its status to an engineering analysis, a step that could potentially lead to a full-fledged recall. The addition of the Lincoln MKZ brings the total number of units potentially affected to 480,000.
Ford and NHTSA have received 52 complaints about difficulty braking and the accelerator sticking after accelerating to pass another vehicle. A "heel blocker" in the floorpan was identified as a potential culprit in raising unsecured floor mats to interfere with the accelerator. No deaths or injuries have been reported in conjunction with the issue.
Ford said it is 'disappointed' in the agency's decision, since the stepped-up probe involves improperly installed floor mats. The driver's side floor mat carries a warning to drivers not to double-stack floormats, and to use properly secured floor mats. Most of the incidents reportedly involved all-weather Ford accessory or third-party floor mats that were not secured.
Following the unintended acceleration incidents that affected hundreds of thousands of Toyota models, the agency is likely taking no chances following up on similar reports, even if improper customer installation of floor mats is to blame.