WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published May 09, 2011, 05:25 PM

Probe of Ford F-150 Trucks' Fuel-tank Straps Expanded

Federal safety regulators have expanded a probe into reports that faulty steel straps could cause the fuel tank of the popular Ford F-150 pickup truck to come loose.

By: Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Federal safety regulators have expanded a probe into reports that faulty steel straps could cause the fuel tank of the popular Ford F-150 pickup truck to come loose.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the problem could cause the tank to fall enough to scrape along the road, potentially causing fires in vehicles from model years 1997 to 2001.

The investigation stops short of a recall, though such actions often result in them eventually. The probe was originally launched for 1.4 million vehicles after regulators received 32 complaints about the straps, the agency said in a September report. It has now expanded the investigation to include 2.7 million vehicles.

Regulators said that one or both of the steel straps securing the fuel tank to the truck's frame could corrode and break, causing the tank to tilt down or drag on the road.

If either scenario occurs while driving, friction with the ground could open a hole in the loose tank, regulators said. Sparks from the dragging metal could ignite leaking fuel.

Though no injuries have been reported, Ford Motor Co. and NHTSA know of 306 individual complaints of rusted straps. In 243 instances, the fuel tank dropped or began dragging; 95 cases involved leaking fuel. In two reports, the defect resulted in a fire, one of which destroyed the vehicle.

In April, Ford enlarged its recall of newer F-150 trucks to 1.2 million vehicles from the 2004 to 2006 model years because of front-seat airbags that reportedly could inflate without a collision.

___

(c) 2011, Los Angeles Times.

Visit the Los Angeles Times on the Internet at http://www.latimes.com/.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Tags: