DETROIT -- For the second time in two months, Ford Motor Co. is recalling its new Contour and Mystique compact sedans because of a defect in the fuel systems that could cause fires.
Because it cannot make corrected tanks fast enough, Ford said that it has halted production of the cars for a week, which will exacerbate dealer shortages of the cars just as Ford is promoting them with a major introductory advertising campaign.
A total of 28,500 cars have the defect, including almost 8,000 Ford Contours and Mercury Mystiques that are already in customers' hands in the United States and Canada.
In September, Ford said it had learned that static electricity could be created on a shield attached to the cars' fuel filler pipes, and recalled 8,200 cars to correct the problem, including about 200 that customers had already purchased.
The latest problem occurred in a two-piece plastic connector between the fuel tank and the filler pipe, said Joy Wolfe, a spokeswoman for Ford. While the supplier that made the connector tested each one, it used water rather than gasoline in the testing, since parts tested with gasoline could not be shipped.
Owners reported that they smelled fuel, leading to the discovery of the defect, Ms. Wolfe said. Ford had no reports of fires, accidents or injuries because of the problem, she added.