Ford has expanded a recall on newer editions of its most popular compact crossovers equipped with 1.5-liter engines. A cracked fuel injector in the Ford Escape and related Ford Bronco Sport can leak fuel or vapors inside the engine near ignition sources. This could result in a fire under the hood, the NHTSA disclosed Monday.

The recall encompasses 521,778, and expands on a previous recall (22V-191) issued on March 25, 2022. The new number includes the original recall of 345,451 Escape and Bronco Sport vehicles for a cracked engine oil separator housing that carried the same risk and showed the same symptoms of the expanded recall.

The new, wider recall covers the 2020-2023 Ford Escape and 2021-2023 Ford Bronco Sport equipped with the base 1.5-liter turbo-3 engine. The recall includes those vehicles previously recalled and extends to all Escape and Bronco Sport models with the 1.5-liter produced through Oct. 17, 2022.

Ten engine fires occurred after the initial fix for the oil separator issue, and that number increased to 36 as of August of this year. Ford conducted further investigation and has now acknowledged 54 reports of underhood fires from the affected vehicle population. There have been four injuries resulting from the two recalls and 43 legal claims.

The root cause of the engine fires is still under investigation. As of the latest recall, Ford found that the “cracked fuel injector in the engine allows for fuel to leak at a high rate into the cylinder head, which can travel out via a drain hole and down onto hot surfaces on the exhaust/turbo system where it may combust.”

Owners might smell gas both inside or outside of the vehicle and, if a fire combusts, visible smoke and/or flames could follow.

Until Ford figures out the root cause, a software update to the engine control module will detect a pressure drop in the fuel system and alert the customer to seek service, and it will disable the high pressure fuel pump which will then limit engine power. Additionally, Ford and Lincoln service centers will install a drain tube from the cylinder head drain hole away from engine surfaces down to the ground.

Owners can expect notification by mail as early as Dec. 19, 2022, and the services will be completed free of charge. For owners seeking reimbursement for work completed on the engine fire issue, the deadline is Dec. 30, 2022. For more info, call Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 or visit Ford’s dedicated recall hub.

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