Ford is recalling nearly 1.3 million cars in the United States to repair fuel tanks that can cause engine stalls. Owners have reported stalling and erratic idles to fuel gauges rapidly changing and deformed fuel tanks.
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The problem, Ford says, is that a faulty purge valve in the fuel tank’s evaporative emission-control system (EVAP) may remain open when it shouldn’t, which can then send liquid fuel into the EVAP system and partially collapse the fuel tank because of excess vacuum pressure. The EVAP system traps gasoline vapors into a charcoal filter and at specific times will release the vapors via the purge valve back into the engine’s throttle body. This ensures that gasoline vapors do not evaporate into the atmosphere. When liquid fuel enters instead of vapor, the problems owners have reported may occur.
Starting in December, dealers will reprogram the powertrain ECU to prevent the valve from remaining open. If the purge valve on a customer’s vehicle is faulty, the dealer will replace it along with the carbon filter, fuel pump, and the entire tank if needed. Ford recommends owners keep the tank at least half full until the recall begins.
Ford corrected the issue for naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engines on the production line in April 2017 and for turbocharged 2.0-liter engines (the Focus ST model) in February. According to the filing, NHTSA contacted Ford in May about the problem after reviewing owner complaints on 2012 through 2014 models. However, Ford did not report any defects to NHTSA despite conducting an “analysis” in 2017 and issuing multiple technical service bulletins since at least 2013 that called for dealers to replace the EVAP canister and fuel tanks of some of the associated Focus models. A Focus owner sued Ford in 2016 and amended the lawsuit into a class action, although the case was dismissed and settled privately in February.
Ford previously recalled the 2014 Focus for fuel problems in 2014 and 2015; both recalls involved faulty fuel pumps that could stall the car. A NHTSA investigation into carbon-monoxide poisoning entering the cabins of Ford Explorer models is also ongoing.