News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 16, 2008
RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga.---Millions of people could be driving around with a recalled part in their engine. Richmond County investigators think that same part could have caused a fire this week, damaging nine cars.
Darryl Mims remembers October 11, 2004 pretty well. He was at home with his wife when his SUV caught on fire in the garage. It didn't just ruin the Ford.
"[Our] house was completely destroyed in about seven minutes," Mims said.
He wondered what caused it for a while, but thinks he has his answer.
"Maybe two or three months later we got a recall letter from Ford telling us there were some problem's with the cruise control switch," he said.
Ford recalled about 9.6 million vehicles in 2005, because of a faulty cruise control switch.
The part always has a current running through it. Lavon Bishop of Bobby Jones Ford says brake fluid could leak into it.
"Which in turn gets into the wiring harness and causes a potential for fire," he said.
Officials say millions are still out there, not fixed.
The cruise control doesn't even have to be on for there to be a problem. In fact, experts say the fire can start even if the engine's off.
That's what may have happened at University Hospital this week. A fire damaged nine cars and SUVs and investigators believe the fire started above the left wheel in this expedition.
The cruise control switch is above the left wheel.
Mims and his family rebuilt their house after living in an apartment for a year.
Whenever he meets someone with a Ford on the list, he lets them know his story.
"I have talked with three or four different people that it happened to and, believe me, it can happen," Mims said.
He is still in litigation with the Ford Motor Company.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists the following vehicles as part of the recall:
1993-1999 F250 (gasoline engine)
1997-2002 Ford Expedition
1998-2002 Lincoln Navigator
1998-2002 Ford Ranger
1992-1998 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car
1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIII
1993-1995 Ford Taurus SHO with automatic transmission
1994 Mercury Capri
1998-2001 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer
2001-2002 Ford Explorer Sport and Explorer Sport Trac
1992-1993 and 1997-2003 Ford E-150-350 gasoline or natural gas vehicles
2002 E-550 gasoline engine vehicles
1996-2003 E-450 gasoline or natural gas vehicles
1994-2002 F-250 through F-550 super Duty trucks (gasoline engine)
2000-2002 Ford Excursion (gasoline engine)
2003 F250-F550 Super Duty, Ford Excursion
1995-2002 Ford F53 Motor home chassis
2002-2003 Lincoln Blackwood