Ford Investigated for Stuck Accelerator Syndrome

1.9 million Ford Tauruses investigated by US regulators for Toyota-like problem

Everyone knows the Ford Taurus will probably be the next Ford Falcon in Australia. The Taurus’s reputation copped a severe kick this week when US Government road safety regulators launched an investigation into sticky accelerators on the Taurus (and its Siamese twin, the Mercury Sable).

The investigation expanded this week to cover model years 2001-2006. As many as 1.9 million Tauruses and Sables might be recalled as a result.

It’s thought a defective cruise control cable might be the cause.

2006 Taurus: It scratches. It barks. It bites. And its children will be the next 'Aussie' Ford Falcon

The problem is similar to that which burnt Toyota’s reputation two years back, seeing 14 million vehicles recalled in a problem Toyota blamed on floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals.

In one customer complaint lodged on November 27, 2011 the driver said the car, doing 120km/h, couldn’t be stopped by the brakes. He swerved around two stopped cars and through a red light, finally stopping after selecting ‘P’ and turning off the engine.

“Wow – scariest thing I have ever experienced,” he said. “If there was heavy traffic someone would have been killed, no doubt in my mind.”

The Taurus is something of a dog, even in the USA. It debuted in 1985 and rocketed to stardom as the US’s top-selling car in the 1990s – for five years. After that, however, Ford dropped the ball on it, and concentrated instead on its SUVs. Toyota’s Camry soon overtook it in sales.

Taurus sales nosedived from more than 400,000 annually in the 1990s to just over 63,000 last year in the USA. (Almost as bad a crash as Ford Falcon’s sales in Oz – down from more than 70,000 in the early 2000s to about 12,000-15,000, maybe, this year.)

The Taurus was so on the nose in the early 2000s that Ford re-named it the Five Hundred in 2006, but new Ford US boss Alan Mulally reinstated the Taurus name for the 2008 model. He also firebombed the Mercury brand to oblivion in 2010 in a mad dance to sidestep the Chapter 11 bankruptcy that swept over General Motors and Chrysler.

This incident isn’t the first stain on the Taurus’s reputation: in 2008 Ford recalled 1993-1995 Taurus SHOs afflicted with defective cruise control switches that caused underbonnet fires.