DETROIT — Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that throttles can stick on older-model Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash.
The probe, announced Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, affects 730,000 SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years that are powered by V-6 engines.
The agency said it has received 99 complaints from owners of the SUVs alleging 13 crashes, nine injuries, and one death caused by the problem. The throttles on the SUVs can fail to return to idle when the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal, agency documents say.
Investigators are looking into whether the sticky throttles could have been caused by repairs made as part of a 2004 recall of the same vehicles.
Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said Ford is aware of the investigation but won’t comment on specifics. The Escape has been one of Ford’s most popular vehicles since it went on sale in 2000, with more than 2.1 million sold.