It’s easy to dismiss car doors as being inconsequential to safety. After all, they aren’t as critical as the engine or brakes, right?
Unfortunately, many Ford Escape owners have learned that functioning doors are just as important as any other part of their cars’ structures. 118 safety complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about problems with 2020-2021 Ford Escape doors. The NHTSA has reviewed the complaints and opened a federal investigation into whether these vehicles have genuine safety problems.
Your vehicle may be affected if you own a 2020 or 2021 Escape. Here’s what you need to know about the risks you could face, why faulty doors are such a dangerous problem, and what you can do if your Ford Escape is a lemon.
Ford Escape Doors Allegedly Fail to Open, Close, or Latch
Typically, a car door has two jobs: it should open when the owner or a passenger wants it to open and stay shut otherwise. Most vehicles accomplish this with no problem. According to owner complaints, that’s not the case for affected Ford Escapes.
The 118 NHTSA door complaints cover several related issues. Various owners report that:
- Doors will not open: The most common complaint is that the Escape’s driver’s side door will not open after being shut. The length of time and status of the vehicle doesn’t seem to matter. Some drivers get locked out when they briefly exit the car while it’s running. Others try to enter their car hours or days after turning it off and find it had wedged itself shut. Many people report being forced to enter their cars from other doors that haven’t failed.
- Doors won’t latch shut: Less common but just as problematic, some drivers report that their doors won’t latch and stay closed after being opened. Some people find that locking the car is enough to keep the door closed, but others find the lock won’t engage.
- Doors pop open while the vehicle is in operation: Rarely, owners have faced the terrifying experience of having a door open unexpectedly while driving. This appears to be related to a failure to latch. If the car goes over a bump or experiences another sudden movement, it can jostle the unlatched door open, even at highway speeds.
According to the NHTSA’s initial announcement, the issue appears to be caused by widespread failures of the spot-welds securing the vehicles’ door check brackets. When these welds fail, the bracket is no longer positioned correctly. Depending on the specific failure point, it may wedge the door shut or prevent it from latching securely.
Dangers of Faulty Car Doors
Doors are among the most overlooked safety features in the average vehicle. If they can’t be trusted to open and shut correctly, they put vehicle occupants at significant risk. In fact, 25 of the 118 NHTSA complaints involved minor injuries. Another 18 are labeled “Confidential,” which may mean that the issue led to more serious injuries or even death.
But how can a door cause so many problems? Some of the greatest issues caused by faulty car doors include:
- Preventing the car from being used: A vehicle is unsafe to drive if a door can’t close.
- Distracting the driver: When a door pops open on the road, at best, the driver is likely to be distracted. At worst, it could hit another vehicle or cause the driver to crash.
- Preventing occupants from escaping a crash: As dangerous as unlatched doors may be, jammed doors are even worse. They can prevent people from getting out of the car in an emergency, which can lead to significant injuries or deaths that could otherwise have been prevented.
How to Get Help for Dangerously Defective Ford Escapes
More than 346,000 vehicles are subject to the investigation. Until it is complete or Ford issues a recall, there is no way to know whether a specific Escape will develop the issue. However, your car could be susceptible if you own a 2020-2021 year model Escape. If you notice a door is getting jammed or takes several tries to close, or if you hear crackling or popping sounds when you open or shut it, the check bracket may be loose, and you are more likely to be at risk.
Should these issues occur, have your car taken to a certified Ford dealership as soon as possible. Failing spot welds are manufacturing defects by definition. Having the problem documented by the manufacturer’s mechanic is critical if you need to file a lemon claim for a defective vehicle. It establishes a paper trail and prevents the carmaker from claiming your negligence caused the issue.
This documentation is especially important because the Ford Escape door problem may be more likely to qualify for a lemon claim compared to other manufacturing defects. Multiple owners and dealership mechanics report that the bracket failure has reoccurred after at least one attempt to repair it. In California, that is halfway to meeting the “reasonable opportunity to repair” criterion for potentially deadly lemon claims. In other words, if your door brackets fail, you may have grounds to demand Ford replace or refund your vehicle.
Discuss Your Options With Expert Lemon Law Attorneys
Faulty doors are worrying at best and dangerous at worst. Your Ford Escape may be a lemon if it has had multiple door-latch problems. If you suspect your 2021 Escape is defective, you can talk to the expert California lemon attorneys at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys. We’ve spent years helping California car owners pursue compensation for dangerous and defective vehicles. Schedule your consultation today to discuss whether your Escape is a lemon and your best options for getting compensation for your defective vehicle.