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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 20:20 GMT
Ford recalls almost 600,000 cars
Ford Focus
A problematic battery cable could cause a fire
Ford has recalled almost 600,000 Focus cars due to potential safety problems.

Engine fires and other difficulties with the Focus sparked the recall.

The 572,795 Focus cars in question were released in 2000 and 2001, most of them in the US but some have been sold in Canada, Mexico and a number of other countries.

The recall follows previous safety concerns with its best selling Ford Explorer sports utility vehicle, or light truck, which has been involved in several fatal rollover crashes.

Following the latest recall, Ford has issued 11 safety recalls for the Focus since it was launched in 1999.

"We are serious about improving not just the quality of the new Focus, but also the reliability of Focus cars from prior model years,"" said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president for environmental and safety engineering.

Bolt loose

Ford said a bolt in the front suspension of the Focus is in danger of coming loose.

This would at best cause noise and vibration, and at worst the ball joint could be separated.

A separate problem, with the high performance Zetec engines, used in some Focus cars, relates to the way a battery cable has been positioned.

Its position could result in smoke, wire melting or fires under the bonnet.

"Although these two concerns are rare occurrences, they could have safety consequences and we want to ensure our customers' peace-of-mind," said Ms Cischke.

Ford also said it would extend its service programme for 2000-2001 Focus models over a separate problem with a rear-wheel bearing seal from 21 US states to all its North American customers.

Rollover crashes

Ford's latest recalls came soon after US safety investigators called for action to improve the safety of 15 passenger vans.

On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board wrote to the chief executives of both Ford and General Motors, asking them to search for technology that would make it easier for drivers to control the vehicles.

"The safety board is vitally interested in this recommendation because it is designed to prevent accidents and save lives," said board chairman Carol Carmody.

The board also called for action from the regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"These vans are not like cars. They don't handle like cars," said Ford spokeswoman Carolyn Brown.

"We do encourage the driver of the van to get training."


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