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2.7 Million Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks Under Investigation for Loosening Gas Tanks

May 31, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

U.S. regulators are expending an investigation of a gas tank problem that may be plaguing some F-150 Pickup Trucks.  Roughly 2.7 million vehicles were added to the F-150 Pickup investigation after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received more than 240 new reports of  gas tanks coming free from the trucks and dragging from the ground.

The steel straps holding up the F-150s’ gas tank in place can rust and break, possibly causing a fuel spill and fire, according to the NHTSA.  If one strap breaks, the tank could tilt to one side, and possibly make contact with the road. If both straps break the whole tank can fall to the pavement.  If either occurs while the truck is being driven, it may cause fuel leaks, sparks and fire.

The NHTSA first launched its F-150 Pickup investigation last September, when it had received 32 reports of loosening gas tanks.  The investigation includes model years 1997 through 2001 F-150 Pickup trucks.

Two of the reports receive by the NHTSA involved fires, and one of those destroyed a vehicle.  There have also been nine reports of gas tanks causing sparks, but no reports of injuries or crashes.  A gasoline leak that the driver was not aware of occurred in  95 of the 243 new reports made to the NHTSA.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the NHTSA says it is upgrading its previously-announced investigation to an engineering analysis because of the potential severity of the defect.  The more serious investigation stops short of a recall, but very often, such probes are often followed by a recall.

According to a report in The New York Times, Ford said it's cooperating with the investigation.

Ford’s F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.  Earlier this year, Ford recalled 150,000 F-150 trucks to deal with an airbag problem.  That recall was eventually expanded to 1.2 million trucks last month under pressure from the NHTSA.  According to an Associated  Press article, there were 98 reported injuries because of airbags that deployed at the wrong time.

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