Ford has been accused of botching a fix for hybrids involved in a recent recall over fire concerns in a new class-action lawsuit.
The suit was filed in Michigan by a law firm representing some of the 100,000 owners of Ford Escape, Ford Maverick, and Lincoln Corsair hybrids that were recalled when some cars caught fire or suffered melted underwood components.
Ford traced the issue on cars equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid motor to fluid leaking from the engine block or oil pan, which could pool near hot surfaces in the engine bay and exhaust system, potentially causing smoke and fire.
Ford has so far received 23 reports of that happening and paused sales of new 2.5-liter hybrid vehicles in July. It also began contacting existing owners on August 8, asking them to return to a dealership for a no-cost repair. The company is advising owners still awaiting the fix to park and shut off the engine “as quickly as possible if they hear unexpected engine noises, notice a reduction in vehicle power, or see smoke.”
But Hagens Berman, the firm representing the owners, claims Ford’s “fix” didn’t address the engine and oil pan leaks, and simply effected a workaround repair involving the removal of blinds from the active grille shutter and drilling holes in the belly pan running below the engine. The lawsuit seeks damages and a repair, accusing Ford of warranty violation and violation of state consumer protection laws.
“Ford’s fix is essentially rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Steve Berman, Hagens Berman co-founder, and managing partner. “While drivers, their families and others on the road attend to the real crisis of a potential vehicle fire due to this manufacturing defect, Ford’s solution does nothing to address the issue at hand and will mean an unknowable amount of engine fluids will be spilled onto roads, leaching into groundwater and soil.”
Ford’s lawyers will no doubt vigorously defend the carmaker’s response to the fire threat, but it’ll need to have its very best guys on the job. Hagens Berman and its attorneys have a solid record of extracting cash from manufacturers, including $255 million from Hyundai and Kia for overstating fuel efficiency, $37.5 million from GM for faulty ignition switches, $1.6 billion from Toyota over instances of unintended acceleration, and playing a part in the $14.7 billion settlement reached with Volkswagen relating to the dieselgate scandal.