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Ford, Toyota Recall Nearly 5M Trucks, SUVs

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Ford, Toyota Recall Nearly 5M Trucks, SUVs

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press WriterWed Sep 7,11:03 PM ET

Ford and Toyota, two of the world's largest automakers, on Wednesday
recalled nearly 5 million pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in
separate moves to respond to concerns of engine fires and problems
with the power-steering system.

The recall by Ford Motor Co., the fifth-largest auto industry recall
in U.S. history, involved 3.8 million pickups and SUVs from the
1994-2002 model years, including the top-selling F-150 pickup.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford have been
investigating complaints of engine fires linked to the cruise control
switch system.

Toyota Motor Corp., meanwhile, recalled 978,000 sport utility vehicles
and pickup trucks over complaints that a rod linking the steering
wheel and the wheels could fracture when the steering wheel is turned
while the vehicle is stopped. The affected vehicles include the
1990-1995 4Runner SUV, 1989-1995 truck 4WD and 1993-1998 T-100 pickup.

In the Ford case, NHTSA said Wednesday it was reviewing 1,170
allegations of engine fires related to the vehicles and would continue
a probe launched earlier this year. There have been allegations of
three deaths in cases cited in news reports or lawsuits in Iowa,
Georgia and Arkansas.

Ford's recall includes the 1994-2002 F-150, 1997-2002 Ford Expedition,
1998-2002 Lincoln Navigator and 1994-1996 Ford Bronco equipped with
factory-installed speed control. It covers most of the vehicles being
evaluated by NHTSA.

Ford said its inquiry found brake fluid could leak through the cruise
control's deactivation switch into the system's electrical components,
leading to potential corrosion. That could lead to a buildup of
electrical current that could cause overheating and a fire.

Owners will be notified by mail immediately. Dealers will install a
fused wiring harness to act as a circuit breaker in the system. The
company said the harness would cut off electrical current to the
switch if the current increases.

In January, Ford recalled nearly 800,000 vehicles from the 2000 model
year because of concerns over engine fires.

"We have a solution that fixes the problem and we're confident that
this is going to be the right remedy," said Ford spokeswoman Kristen

Texas Instruments Inc. supplied the switch in all of the models. TI
spokeswoman Gail Chandler noted that the switch was one part of the
system and said the company "continues to have confidence in the safe
design of the switch itself."

The Ford F-series truck has been the best-selling full-size pickup for
nearly three decades. In July, when the company offered its employee
discount to all buyers, the F-series set a record for the highest
monthly sales of any vehicle since the 1920s with total sales of
126,905 trucks.

The recall, which will cost millions of dollars, comes at a difficult
time for Ford. The company's second-quarter profits were down 19
percent to $900 million, hurt by increasing competition and high labor
and health care costs. The automaker plans to lay off at least 2,750
salaried workers in North America by the end of the year.

"This issue has been kind've bubbling up with the fires ... so they
needed to do something quickly. They certainly didn't want another
Firestone tire issue on their hands," said Rebecca Lindland, an
analyst for Lexington, Mass.-based research firm Global Insight.

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a longtime auto safety
advocate, said the recall was insufficient, citing similar switches
found on 16 million Ford vehicles.

"Ford Motor Company's sluggish and piecemeal approach to its
automotive responsibilities betrays motorists' safety," Nader said.

Toyota said its recall would begin in mid-September and was based on
seven confirmed cases of the power-steering problem in T100 vehicles.
No crashes have been tied to the issue.

Toyota's profits were down 7 percent to $2.4 billion in the April-June
period but the company is generally healthier than its U.S. rivals.

Toyota's U.S. sales were up 11.4 percent in the first eight months of
this year, compared with an average increase of 3.5 percent for the
Big Three. Car sales made up most of that increase. Sales of light
trucks including the 4Runner were up only 2 percent.

Ford shares rose 17 cents to close at $10.13 Wednesday on the New York
Stock Exchange. Toyota shares fell 7 cents to close at $83.78 on the


AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed to this report from Detroit.

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