One of the most important elements of your vehicle–the steering wheel–should at no time come loose and/or fall off.
Ford Motors recently attracted national attention for exactly that problem.
On March 14 Ford Motor Company issued a North American recall for almost 1.4 million Fusion and Lincoln MKZ model sedans after getting reports that loose bolts were causing some vehicles’ steering wheels to detach.
The recall affects every variant of Fusion and Lincoln MKZ in the 2014-2018 year range.
At the time of the recall the company had allegedly received word of two accidents (one with injuries) related to this problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was already on the case, having started its investigations last October. Between the company and the federal agency it was determined that the bolts attaching the wheel to the steering column have the potential to loosen over time from normal driving behavior, at which point the wheel could simply shake loose and fall off.
While Ford says it only knew of a couple of genuine accidents, the NHTSA received dozens of complaints from unhappy Fusion owners who alleged everything from loose or wobbly steering wheels to outright separation from their anchor points. One owner noted that the wheel fell directly in her lap as she attempted to turn into a gas station lot in Georgia; another told the NHTSA that his steering wheel came loose while he was traveling on an interstate highway. Both survived their alarming ordeals, but neither should ever have been in that position.
The recall affects every variant of Fusion and Lincoln MKZ in the 2014-2018 year range. Reports of steering decouplings have trickled into Ford for at least three years, but even after finding 137 related complaints internal auditors said in 2015 that they lacked evidence to “identify any trend” to warrant a defective-product recall. It seems like the ramp-up in reports toward the latter half of 2017 may have caused them to (eventually) change their tune.
This isn’t Ford’s sole quality-control problem lately, either. The steering wheel recall is hot on the heels of a separate series of reported door-latch problems. Related recalls alleged that affected doors could fly open when affected cars simply made a turn. That chain of recalls affects several million vehicles and has cost Ford over $600 million and counting.
I Have One of These Vehicles. What Should I Do?
As it often does with vehicle recalls, the proposed remedy for this issue involves taking it to a Ford dealership. Dealers have instructions to install a longer securing bolt with “more robust thread engagement and a larger nylon patch placed for proper torque retention.” It’s often best to let a certified technician handle vehicular issues that could cause a wreck if unchecked, so if you’ve felt some wobble in your turns, I’d suggest taking your Fusion or MKZ to a local dealership to get that bolt checked out and replaced free of charge.
If they’ve known for something like three years that the Fusions’ wobbly steering wheels are a problem and are just now getting around to issuing a recall, it’s likely that anyone else hurt on a Sunday drive could have grounds to seek damages. If you, or a loved one, has been injured because of a wreck caused by the other driver’s steering wheel coming lose, call the experienced attorneys at Reryes Browne Reilley for a free consultation today.