The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Ford F-Series pickup trucks for tailgates that can unexpectedly open up when the trucks are moving. According to a USA Today news report, NHTSA opened an investigation into thousands of F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks from the 2017 model year. The agency says it received five complaints from Ford owners about the problem, which could cause unsecured loads to spill onto the roadway.
The documents posted by NHTSA show Ford sent a service bulletin to dealers in October 2017 saying that the problem is caused by water getting into electrical wiring. Investigators will determine how widespread the trouble is and whether a recall is warranted. The agency, in a rare move, also stated that the number of vehicles involved in the investigation is confidential.
Ford sold nearly 897,000 F-Series trucks during calendar year 2017, making it the most popular vehicle in the United States. About one-third or roughly 299,000 were Super Duty models. NHTSA has two investigations underway of Ford’s F-150 pickup trucks, one from August on complaints of seat belt fires and another from 2016 dealing with the scope of a recall for brake failures.
NHTSA’s Investigative Process
The agency’s technical experts review calls, letters and online reports of alleged safety problems that are filed with NHTSA. While NHTSA has no jurisdiction over defects that are not safety-related, it does review each report that suggests a potential safety defect involving groups of vehicles or vehicle equipment. There is no established number of reports that must be filed before NHTSA investigates an issue.
The agency’s investigative process consists of four parts. Screening is the preliminary review of consumer complaints and other information related to the alleged defects after which the agency determines whether or not to open an investigation. The second stage is analysis where the agency analyzes petitions calling for investigation of vehicle defects. Next comes the investigation where agency investigators delve deeper into the issues. Once an engineering analysis is complete and a determination is made that a recall is necessary, the recall process is initiated.
As consumers, it is important for us to understand that not every defective vehicle on the road is recalled. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective vehicle or vehicle part, it is important to contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.