The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating complaints that a Ford pickup truck tailgate did not fix the problem it set out to fix. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, NHTSA said it has 11 complaints that a recall of power tailgates on 300,000 Super Duty pickup trucks failed to rectify the problem. The agency also says it has received reports from Ford about unintended tailgate openings after the recall repairs were made.
Problem with Tailgates
Ford issued the original recall for F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks in 2019 because the power tailgates could open while the truck was in motion. The defect allowed for the potential of unrestrained cargo tumbling from vehicles and posing a crash hazard to other vehicles. The recalled trucks are from the 2017 to 2020 mode years. NHTSA says it will look into how often the problem occurs and what the safety consequences are. This investigation could result in another recall.
In the original recall statement in December 2019, Ford said that in the affected vehicles with an electric tailgate latch-release switch mounted in the tailgate handle, water entering the electrical wiring system may cause a short circuit, resulting in unintended switch activation and release of the tailgate latches.
This could cause the tailgate to open suddenly and unintentionally either when the vehicle was stopped or in motion. Vehicles with a mechanical tailgate release handle were not affected by this recall. Ford had also said that as a fix, dealers were to modify the tailgate frame wiring harnesses by adding jumper pigtails to isolate the tailgate release control circuits and install a new tailgate handle release switch.
Auto Product Liability Issues
California law prohibits anyone from throwing or dumping debris on the highway. California Vehicle Code section 23112 (a) states: “No person shall throw or deposit, nor shall the registered owner or the driver, if such owner is not then present in the vehicle, aid or abet in the throwing or depositing upon any highway any bottle, can, garbage, glass, nail, offal, paper, wire, any substance likely to injure or damage traffic using the highway, or any noisome, nauseous, or offensive matter of any kind.”
When debris falls off a vehicle due to a defective tailgate, the automaker could be held liable for any injuries, damages or losses caused to other drivers who are injured by fallen debris on the roadway. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.