After government pressure, Ford recalls F-150s over brake issue

Proposed safety law amendments would give minister power to order fines, repairs

OTTAWA — Ford of Canada has agreed to recall 43,600 F-150 pickup trucks after initially resisting Transport Minister Marc Garneau's call for the automaker to repair faulty brake parts that can increase stopping distances.

Under the recall posted May 11 by Transport Canada, dealers will replace electric vacuum pumps and harnesses on 2012 and 2013 models of the pickup with 3.5-litre EcoBoost engines.

Transport investigators say moisture can cause the pump to fail, reducing available brake assist immediately after first start-up.

“Depending on the driver's reaction, (this) may result in extended stopping distance, which may increase the potential for a low-speed collision,” the agency said.

In a press release, Ford said “typical driver brake pedal pressure” will stop the vehicle, but conceded that a pump failure “could result in unexpected extended stopping distance on the first brake application after a cold start.”

The automaker said it is aware of 11 accidents associated with the issue. None involved injuries.

In November 2016, Transport Canada said Ford was contesting its finding that the problem with its top-selling pickup was a safety risk. The agency said it had received more than 100 reports of pump failures.

Feedback requested

Garneau said he would order Ford to notify F-150 owners of the defect if the government received more complaints.

“I am disappointed that Ford disagrees with our assessment, and that is why I’m inviting Canadians who have experienced these issues to provide feedback that will help me make my final decision,” Garneau said.

Under current safety laws, the government can order manufacturers to issue a notice of defect, but not to make repairs under a recall. That would change under amendments before Parliament that would give the minister broader powers to order recalls, impose fines of up to $200,000 for companies that violate the act and grant wider enforcement powers to Transport Canada inspectors.

The bill was introduced in 2016 in the Senate, where it was modified to include compensation for dealers when vehicles on their lots are recalled. It passed first reading in the House of Commons in February.

Pump warranty extended

In resisting a recall of the EcoBoost F-150s earlier, Ford pointed to a finding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. that “the vehicle remained controllable” if the pump stopped working.

Ford said an extended warranty has been put in place for all vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to cover the electric vacuum pump for 10 years or 240,000 kilometres.

On Thursday, Ford said the decision to issue the recall now was based on the latest data on pump failures.

“Our decisions are driven by the available data and we move quickly on behalf of our customers when we determine a safety recall is needed,” said spokeswoman Michelle Lee-Gracey.

You can reach Rob Bostelaar at robert.bostelaar@gmail.com

Tags: Ford Canada

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