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Ford recalls 1.4 million Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars, saying steering wheels could fall off

Ford recalls 1.4 million Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars, saying steering wheels could fall off
A Lincoln MKZ sits at a dealership. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday announced a safety recall for 1.4 million of its cars in North America, saying that because of issues with the steering wheel bolts, the steering wheel could detach.

It also announced a safety recall for about 6,000 manual-transmission cars over a clutch-plate problem that carries a risk of fire.

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The recall over the steering wheel problem applies to 2014-18 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles.

In affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt might not stay tightly secured and might loosen over time. If that's not fixed, the steering wheel could detach from the car, causing the driver to lose the ability to steer.

Ford said it knew of two accidents, one with an injury, allegedly related to this issue.

To address the issue, dealers will replace the steering wheel bolt on the vehicle with a longer bolt "with more robust thread engagement and larger nylon patch placed properly for proper torque retention — at no cost to customers," the automaker said in a news release.

The recall affects 1.3 million vehicles in the United States, about 62,500 in Canada and a little more than 14,000 in Mexico.

The recall comes about five months after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into steering wheels falling off Fusions from the 2014 through 2016 model years.

The safety agency said in documents that it began the investigation after receiving three complaints, including one involving a driver from Georgia who reported that the steering wheel in a 2015 Fusion fell into their lap when turning into a gas station.

Two other people reported that the bolt attaching the wheel to the steering column came loose while driving and had to be retightened at a repair shop. At the time the agency had no reports of crashes or injuries.

Ford is one of two car manufacturers this year that has issued a recall for steering wheels coming off. In February, Hyundai recalled 43,900 vehicles that were at risk of the steering wheel breaking away from the steering column. That recall affected the 2018 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs.

Ford's other recall announced Wednesday applies to about 6,000 select models of Ford Focus and Ford Fusion cars in the U.S. and Canada. The problem can cause the clutch pressure plate to fracture, and there is a risk of leaking transmission fluid that ups the risk of an engine-compartment fire, Ford said.

The affected vehicles are 2013-16 Ford Focus cars with a 1.0-liter Fox GTDI engine and B6 manual transmission, and 2013-15 Ford Fusion cars with a 1.6-liter GTDI engine and B6 manual transmission.

Ford said it is not aware of any fires, accidents or injuries associated with this issue. Dealers are to fix the issue free of charge.

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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UPDATES:

10:30 a.m.: This article was updated with information about a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation and a similar recall by Hyundai.

This article was originally published at 7:40 a.m.

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