DETROIT, Nov 20 (Reuters) -Motor Co. said on Thursday that it was urging owners of about 671,000 Focus compact sedans to bring the cars into local dealerships for replacement of a component linked to chronic engine stalling problems.
The cars affected, from the 2000 and 2001 model years and sold in Canada and Mexico as well as the United States, have already been subject to an embarrassing total of 10 recalls by U.S. federal safety regulators.
Butspokesman Glenn Ray said the sputtering engines, which the company is blaming on the corrosive effect of dirt or sludge buildup in a fuel delivery module designed in Europe, was not something the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would officially record as a quality problem or recall.
"It's a product improvement program. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the quality of the fuel delivery module. It doesn't fail instantaneously or suddenly," Ray said.
"The root cause of the problem we've discovered in North America progressively over time is the variability and unpredictability of the gasoline-petrol standards in North America."
Ray said customers affected by the engine problem would get an extended 10-year vehicle warranty on the fuel replacement part and he stressed that no similar problems had been reported with 2002 and 2003 models of the Focus.