The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into 841,000 Ford vehicles over concerns that the steering wheels may get detached when the cars are in motion. According to a report in Autonews.com, NHTSA is investigating 2014-2016 model Ford Fusion cars after three reports of steering wheel bolts coming loose including one completely detaching as a driver tried to turn into a gas station. Ford has said it is cooperating with the agency on the investigation.
When it comes to auto defects, a preliminary investigation is the first step in NHTSA’s process. An engineering analysis would be the next step in the process, which could then lead to a recall. Sometimes, NHTSA closes such investigations without requiring any action. Steering wheel recalls are rare, but not unprecedented. In 2011, General Motors recalled 2,100 Chevy Cruze vehicles because the steering wheel could detach. GM also recalled a small number of Buick Encore SUVs in 2013 to address a similar problem.
Last week, Ford announced a recall for 1.34 million 2015-2017 Ford F-150 and 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks in North America to add water shields to side door latches at a cost of $267 million. The recall came after Canadian authorities asked Ford for answers in March after four reports of doors opening while people were driving.
The automaker has now recalled more than five million vehicles for varying door latch-related issues since 2016. A recall for Ford Explorer SUVs that leak carbon monoxide gas into the passenger compartment is also imminent. NHTSA is in the process of completing the engineering analysis on that issue.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Steering defects have the potential to cause serious car accidents that could result in major injuries or even fatalities. When individuals are injured as a result of auto defects, victims or their families can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, and pain and suffering.
In such cases injured victims would be well advised to preserve the vehicle in its current state, unaltered, so an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects, malfunctions and design flaws. It would also be in the best interest of victims to contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who will fight hard for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.