NHTSA has already found evidence of three crashes from this problem, and the agency suspects that it know the reason for the issue.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation is opening a preliminary evaluation into a possible problem with the brakes in the 2007-2009 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. The agency has 141 complaints of the stopping distance unexpectedly increasing in these sedans, including three crashes. There are no known injuries at this time, though.
NHTSA suspects there may be a problem with the antilock braking system hydraulic control unit. The suspicion stems from many complaints that allege the problem occurring after the ABS’ activation while driving on a slippery surface. Soon afterward, the pedal becomes soft and goes to the floor in some instances. The vehicle can still stop, but drivers report needing to use significantly more force than usual to make it happen. In some cases the car even misses slowing down for traffic lights or stop signs, which puts the occupants in the middle of crossing traffic. The issue eventually corrects itself but happens again after a subsequent ABS activation.
“It is believed that the ABS HCU experiences an internal malfunction which causes an inability to maintain required braking pressure,” NHTSA wrote in the report for its preliminary evaluation.
The agency’s preliminary evaluations are not the same as a recall. For now, NHTSA is still checking the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequences of this issue. With enough evidence, the investigation could eventually turn into a repair campaign to fix the problem.
The 2007-2009 Fusion and Milan have been part of two other recalls. In 2016, Ford needed to repair them because they contained Takata-supplied passenger’s side airbag inflators that could have ruptured when deploying during a collision. The company also fixed these sedans in 2014 for an issue where an accessory floor mat on the driver’s side could have trapped the throttle pedal and might have prevented it from returning to the idle position.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration via Automotive News