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Ford SVT Mustang Cobra Owners Warned About Possible Brake Hose Failures

28 July 1999

NHTSA 35-99
Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Contact: NHTSA, Tim Hurd, (202) 366-9550


The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today warned owners of 1994 through 1998 Ford SVT Mustang Cobras of the possible danger of front brake hose failures occurring as a result of equipping their vehicles with aftermarket high performance front brake linings and then driving under severe high speed conditions on a race track.

"To date we have learned of 21 brake hose failures in 15 vehicles. Two of these failures led to crashes on racetracks, one in which the Cobra was a total loss," said Ricardo Martinez, M.D., NHTSA administrator. "Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority, and this warning is intended as a caution to owners to protect their safety."

Information developed during a NHTSA safety defect investigation revealed that two failures were brake fluid leaks from the hose, and 19 failures involved the separation of the rubber brake hose from the metal end fitting at the brake caliper. Such a separation leads to a partial brake system hydraulic failure and a loss of about 70 percent of the vehicle's braking capability.

Except for one of the Cobras that had a front brake hose leak, all of the Cobras that experienced a leakage or separation failure of one or both front brake hoses had been driven at high speed in a "race track event" with non-Ford high performance front brake linings. Fifteen separation failures occurred while the vehicle was being driven on a race track, and three hose separations occurred on public roads after race track use. The other failures occurred or were discovered during brake system maintenance.

Ford says the hose failures are a direct result of brake caliper/rotor overheating following replacement of the Ford production brake linings with high performance aftermarket metallic brake linings and use of the vehicles in a race track situation.

To address this problem, Ford published an article in its "SVT Enthusiast" magazine, which is mailed to over 34,000 Cobra owners. The article informed owners of the issue and indicated that a new front brake hose incorporating a steel section between the fitting and hose to dissipate heat is available at Ford dealers. Ford has released this hose, which is also used on the 1999 Cobra, for use on 1994 through 1998 Ford SVT Mustang Cobras and will remove the earlier versions of these front brake hoses from the stock of its service departments.

Owners who have equipped their vehicles with non-Ford high performance front brake linings and plan to drive their vehicles in a high speed "race track event" can purchase the new hoses from their Ford dealers.