The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week announced a far-reaching investigation into the Ford F-150 pickup truck. Government inspectors are concerned that the steel straps that hold the vehicle’s fuel tank can rust and detach, causing the fuel tank to fall off. This may result in a fire hazard, as fuel tanks may dangle and drag along the roadway or completely detach and spill fuel upon impact with the pavement.
The NHTSA has not issued an official recall on the vehicles, which includes Ford F-150 model years 1997 to 2001, nearly 3 million vehicles.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Ford Motor Co. and the NHTSA have received 306 reports of rusted straps, and 243 accounts of the fuel tank dropping or dragging. There have been 95 reported cases of leaking fuel as a result of the defect, and two reports of fire as a result, one which destroyed the affected vehicle.
Ford Motor Co. and the F-150 pickup truck are already in the national spotlight as the focus of a recall of newer Ford F-150 trucks due to problems with the airbags unexpectedly deploying. That recall includes 1.2 million vehicles and includes model year vehicles from 2004 to 2006.