When it comes to problems in a car, the steering wheel coming off while driving ranks near the top of the freak-out meter. Apparently, there’s enough of concern at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on this issue that it’s launching a preliminary investigation into the Ford Fusion. According to Reuters, there have been three reports of steering wheel bolts coming loose on Ford’s popular mid-size sedan, with the steering wheel completely falling off in one reported instance while a person was turning into a gas station. Yikes.
The preliminary investigation will focus on Fusions built for the 2014-2016 model years, which totals 841,000 cars. In a statement to Reuters, Ford said it was cooperating with the agency on the issue. As for how exactly the steering wheels are coming loose, there’s no clear indication. One would assume, however, that drivers would certainly notice a loose steering wheel before it actually comes off. There’s also no mention of how this could affect airbag operation or deployment.
This comes as Ford deals with a massive recall for door latch issues on its F-Series pickup trucks. Water can enter the door latch mechanism and become frozen in cold conditions, causing the latch to not function properly. In some cases, the door may refuse to open. On the flip side, doors may not latch completely when closed, and could open unexpectedly while driving. It’s the second recall from Ford for door latch issues in recent years, with the first recall affecting 2 million cars. This latest latch recall is expected to cost the automaker $267 million.
Ford Fusion sales are well off the mark so far in 2017, as shoppers continue to swap sedans for crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. The manufacturer sold 159,742 Fusions through September, compared to 210,462 for the same period in 2016.