Ford recall hits 4.5 million vehicles

Automaker issues largest single recall ever due to a faulty cruise control switch that could lead to a fire.

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By Hibah Yousuf, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ford issued the largest single recall in its history Tuesday as drivers of an additional 4.5 million vehicles were alerted about a fire hazard from a faulty switch.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this was the eighth recall, involving a total of 16 million Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) vehicles, concerning the cruise control deactivation switch manufactured by Texas Instruments (TXN, Fortune 500).

The faulty switch can leak hydraulic fluid, overheat, smoke and then burn, and risks causing a fire even when the ignition is turned off, parked and unattended, the NHTSA said.

The risk is elevated for 1.1 million Windstars that were subject to a government investigation, said Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood.

"We determined with the government that there is a low risk of fires for those vehicles," Sherwood said. "The other 3.4 million vehicles are the remaining vehicles that have the Texas Instrument switch, so we're recalling them to reassure customers and prevent future recalls."

Sherwood added that Ford has always gone beyond recalling only the cars that present a risk.

While the company does not discuss its current suppliers, Sherwood said that Ford vehicles did not use the Texas Instrument switch in post-2003 models.

NHTSA said Ford drivers should look for warnings of possible imminent fires, including malfunctioning cruise control systems and brake lights and antilock braking system and brake light warnings on the dashboard. The safety agency also said difficulty in getting the vehicle out of the park mode should be treated as a warning.

"I urge customers to pay attention to this warning and bring the affected models in to have them repaired as soon as possible," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a statement.

Ford is notifying customers and instructing them to take vehicles to dealers for a complimentary installation of a fused wiring harness that will eliminate the risk of fires, the NHTSA said.

The safety recall is expected to begin around Oct. 26. Owners may contact Ford at 1-800-392-3673 or NTHSA's vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit http://www.safercar.gov.

Tuesday's recall includes the following Ford models: 1995-2003 Windstars, 2000-2003 Excursion diesels, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 F-Super Duty diesels, 1992-2003 Econolines, 1995-2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Rangers and 1994 F35 motorhomes. To top of page

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