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Ford Explorer and Merc Mountaineer SUVs: Transmissions Check-up Coming

DETROIT November 22, 2004; Reuters reported that Ford Motor Co. announced plans on Monday to notify about 740,000 owners of 2004 model-year Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers of a potential transmission problem in the popular sport utility vehicles.

Ford will be sending out letters asking customers to take the SUVs to a dealership for repairs that will be done free of charge, Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.

Ford decided to send out the notification following complaints that the SUVs' transmissions fail to engage smoothly or make a noise when shifting from park to reverse, Kinley said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received a number of complaints from Ford customers about the problem. No recall notice has been issued, but the problem with the Explorer, which is America's best-selling SUV, could put a dent in recent claims of improved quality at the second-largest U.S. automaker.

"We are in the process of a service repair procedure," Kinley said, adding that Ford dealers were already repairing some vehicles that have the problem.