Ford recalls new Escapes to fix coolant leaks

DETROIT (AP) ? Ford is recalling about 7,600 brand-new Escape SUVs to fix coolant leaks that can cause engines to overheat or even catch fire.

The recall affects Escapes from the 2013 model year with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines.

The problem is that plugs in the engine may not have been installed properly and can fall out while the motor is running. Coolant can leak and cause engines to overheat.

It’s the third recall in less than two months for the new Escape, which had been completely redesigned. In July, the company recalled 11,500 of the SUVs to fix fuel lines that can crack, leak and cause fires. Ford Motor Co. urged customers not to drive the cars and said dealers would pick them up to make the repairs. Also in July, the company said it would recall more than 10,000 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking.

The three recalls of the new Escape, which went on sale in June, show that Ford is responding quickly to problems and are not a sign of quality troubles, said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel.

In the latest recall, Ford said it will fix the problems for free. Dealers will add sealant to the metal plugs and put a secondary cover over them to make sure they don’t fall out and cause leaks.

One leak, while an Escape was being driven by a dealership employee, spilled coolant onto hot engine parts and caused a fire that was quickly put out, Zwiebel said, adding that no one was hurt.

About 2,000 of the recalled Escapes are still on dealer lots, Zwiebel said. The engines on the recalled SUVs were built from Oct. 5, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2012 at a Ford factory in England.

Older-model Escapes, which are completely different vehicles from the new ones, also have been recalled recently. Ford recalled nearly 485,000 of them in late July to fix sticking gas pedals that can cause crashes.

That worldwide recall covered the following Escapes: the 2001 through 2004 model years powered by 3-liter V-6 engines with cruise control. U.S. safety regulators received 68 complaints about the problem, including 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death. A teenage girl died when an Escape crashed in Arizona in January.