DEARBORN, MICH., SEPT. 9 -- Ford Motor Co. announced today it is recalling 4.3 million cars and trucks, including its top-selling Taurus and Sable models, to correct two separate safety defects that could cause engine fires and fuel expulsion.
The major portion of the recall covers 2.3 million 1986-1988 model cars and 1.8 million 1986-1987 model light trucks equipped with fuel-injected engines.
Special retainer clips will be installed on the couplings used to connect the vehicles' fuel lines, which can come loose and cause fires.
Being recalled are the Ford Escort, Taurus, Mustang, Thunderbird and LTD Crown Victoria; Mercury Lynx, Sable, Capri, Cougar and Grand Marquis; Lincoln Continental, Mark VII and Town Car and most Ford trucks including the F-Series, Ranger, Bronco, Bronco II, Aerostar and Econoline.
John P. King, service engineering office manager for Ford Parts and Service Division, said the company has received reports of 222 engine fires and eight injuries.
Ford said spring lock fuel-line couplings may not have been latched properly, usually after engine maintenance or service, but in some cases during initial assembly. Only vehicles equipped with fuel-injected engines are affected.
In a separate action, Ford is recalling 200,000 heavy-duty Econoline E-250 and E-350 vehicles to install underbody heat shields, special fuel filler caps and, in some cases, high-flow fuel vapor venting systems.
This recall includes heavy-duty 1983-87 model E-250 and E-350 Econolines equipped with 7.5-liter engines and 1985 1/2-87 models equipped with 5.8-liter engines and four-barrel carburetors.
"We are asking our dealers to give priority to those customers who have had service work performed that required the disconnection and relatching of the fuel line connectors," said King. "If they haven't had service work involving the connectors, we would suggest that they wait until they receive a notification letter before bringing the vehicle to a dealership."
King said the retainer clips are designed to provide an extra latching means to prevent the couplings from separating even if they were not latched properly.
Owners of these vehicles are being mailed letters asking them to return their vehicles to Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealers for installation of the retainer clips at no cost.
The installation should take less than 30 minutes of actual labor time for most vehicles.
Of the 4.1 million vehicles affected in the major recall, about 3.8 million are in the United States, 285,000 in Canada and 15,000 in other countries.
In the second recall, Ford is recalling about 200,000 heavy-duty Club Wagons, vans, cutaway models and stripped chassis. Also included are certain motor homes, transit buses and other vehicles built by other manufacturers who use the E-250 and E-350 chassis as a base for their vehicles.
The modifications are designed to minimize the possibility of fuel expulsion and to protect underbody components from high exhaust temperatures, Ford said.
Ford said the company decided to recall the vehicles based on extensive testing and a comprehensive review, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of customer experience.
Ford said it is aware of 83 reports of fuel expulsion and eight related reports of fires in nonambulance heavy-duty Econoline vehicles.
Eight injuries reportedly were related to fuel expulsion or to the fires, Ford said