The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting an investigation as to whether 1.4 million Ford F-150 trucks from 1997 – 2001 should be recalled over concerns that rust and corrosion on the fuel tank straps could not only weaken the straps, but pose a fire hazard. When the metal straps corrode badly, the straps will break and allow the fuel tank to sag. If both straps fail, the fuel tank can drop from under the vehicle posing a safety risk if you are dragging a container full of gas under your truck. The investigation was opened after receiving 32 complaints of excessive rust on the metal straps. In 28 of the complaints, one or both straps broke, causing the fuel tank to drop from the frame and drag on the ground or become completely detached from the truck. Six complaints alleged that fuel spilled when the tank dropped. Fortunately, there have been no injuries or fires reported.
The investigation is the latest to show consumers that the NHTSA is working quicker to respond to complaints, even for older vehicles and when no injuries have occurred. This is great news for the consumer. It looks like the NHTSA learned from the Toyota acceleration complaints that they need to be a little more proactive in addressing safety issues. We are all human; we all make mistakes. But, anytime we can address a problem and resolve it prior to a serious injury or death, is obviously a good thing.
The NHSTA said the problem at hand could present a fire hazard from gas leaking, as well as an obstruction hazard to other vehicles following on the roadways. While the potential danger of fuel tanks hitting the pavement is obvious, the fact that some of the trucks involved are as much as 14 years. At what point are the automakers still responsible, required to issue a recall, and repair the defect free of charge? Typically, recalls are for vehicles less than 10 years old and automakers are only obligated to fix the problem free of charge to those cars and trucks. Vehicles over 10 years are the responsibility of the owner, but that does not and should not prevent a recall and notification to the public.
Ford is aware of the investigation and is fully cooperating. No decisions have been made, but that doesn’t prevent consumers from being informed and taking some safety precautions. As a standard practice, everyone should have an auto maintenance check at least once a year. In many states, winter can play havoc with a vehicle – bombarding it with road salt. The results of this investigation may not be known until the winter months are underway. I urge all drivers, not just those driving F150s to be proactive. Have your vehicle checked and be safely prepare for the winter months ahead.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiifs involved in pending personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.