Ford said it has developed a solution to the problem of engine overheating in the 2013 Ford Escape and 2013 Ford Fusion that could lead to a fire. The affected vehicles are equipped with 1.6-liter engines.
Ford dealers will make updates to the cooling system software to better manage engine temperatures during what the automaker calls "a unique overheating condition."
"The new software will resolve this issue," said Ford in a statement.
The repair can be made as early as next week, according to the automaker.
"Until the cooling software is updated, customers driving 2013 Escape vehicles equipped with the 1.6-liter engine and 2013 Fusion models equipped with the 1.6-liter engine have been advised to contact their dealer to arrange for alternative transportation at no charge," said Ford.
Ford said it will start notifying customers now so they can schedule appointments with dealers. The repair is supposed to take less than half a day, but Ford said due to service scheduling requirements, a dealer may need the vehicle for a longer period of time.
Ford recalled 65,074 2013 Escapes and 14,983 2013 Fusions with 1.6-liter engines on November 30, but said that a remedy was still under development at the time.
"The engines may overheat, leading to fluid leaks that may come in contact with the hot exhaust system," said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its summary of the problem. "Fluid leaks in the presence of an ignition source such as a hot exhaust system may result in a fire."
In documentation filed with federal safety regulators, Ford said it is aware of "nine field reports of fires in the United States on vehicles in customer service. Further, Ford is aware of one field report of a pre-delivery vehicle fire in Tennessee, one field report of a vehicle fire in Canada and two fires at the Louisville Assembly Plant."
Ford is still warning drivers to pull off the road, turn off the engine and exit the vehicle if they see certain warning messages while driving. The messages include: "Engine Power Reduce to Lower Temps" or "Engine Over Temp, Stop Safely." In some cases, a chime sounds and a red light illuminates.
The affected Ford Escapes were built from October 5, 2011 through November 26, 2012. The affected Fusions were built from February 3, 2012 through November 29, 2012. Ford notes that Escapes equipped with the 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines are unaffected, as are Fusions equipped with 2.5-liter and hybrid engines.
Owners can contact Ford at (866) 436-7332.