NEW YORK -
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 2000-2003 Ford Tauruses and Mercury Sables for a problem that can cause the engine to keep running as if the gas pedal were pressed even when it's not.
According to a document posted on NHTSA's website, an attachment that holds the speed control cable -- which works with the car's cruise control system -- can break, causing the cable to become stuck.
The vehicles involved in the investigation are model year 2000 through 2003 Tauruses and Sables -- the two models are essentially identical -- with 4-valve 3.0-liter V6 Duratec engines. An estimated 310,000 cars may be involved.
For now, NHTSA is not recalling any vehicles, but is performing a "preliminary investigation," to determine the extent of the problem and its safety implications.
By the time the investigation was opened, NHTSA was aware of 50 complaints. The problem has not been seen in other V6-equipped Taurus or Sable cars, according to the document.
Earlier this year, Ford recalled 421,000 Escape crossover SUVs for a problem also involving speed control cables that could get stuck. That recall is unrelated to this investigation, however.