DETROIT — Ford (F) is recalling nearly 1.4 million midsize cars in North America because the steering wheel can detach from the steering column and drivers could lose control. The auto manufacturer found that two of their manufacturing plants rolled out vehicles with loose steering wheels. The problem is so bad that Ford is warning drivers their steering wheels could come off while customers are on the road.
The recall was issued on Wednesday, March 14, and covers certain versions of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars from the 2014 through 2018 model years. The steering wheel issue affects 2014-17 Ford Fusions made at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan from Aug. 6, 2013 to Feb. 29, 2016. The recall also affects the Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Mexico where 2014-2018 Fusions and Lincoln MKZs were assembled from July 25, 2013 to March 5, 2018.
The issue, Ford says, is steering wheel bolts can loosen over time. The company says it knows of two crashes and one injury caused by the problem. Dealers will replace the bolts with longer ones that have more aggressive threads and a nylon patch to stop them from coming loose.
In the same March 14 announcement, Ford also recalled 6,000 manual transmission cars because of a clutch plate defect that could start a fire. That warning includes 2013-15 Ford Fusions produced by the same Mexican plant that was responsible for the steering wheel recall.
Just over 1.3 million cars in the U.S. are being recalled. The rest are in Canada and Mexico.