In late April, Rebbecca of Lorain, Ohio, wrote to ConsumerAffairs.com complaining that the fuel tank on her 1999 Ford F150 pick-up fell off while she was driving it.
“Eleven years old isn't that old of a vehicle for it to be okay to die in,” Rebbecca told ConsumerAffairs.com. “Luckily we were breaking for a red light when it happened. The entire family was in the vehicle. Called Ford, they don't care, gave me a line about no recalls at this time. Filed a complaint with NHTSA.”
Whether it was Rebbecca's complaint, or one of dozens of others, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to take a closer look at the problem. Agency officials said they had already begun an investigation, but now the probe is being expanded to include vehicles in the model years 1997 through 2001.
According to NHTSA investigators, one or both steel straps holding the gas tank to the trucks frame could weaken over time and eventually fail. That would cause the tank to slip down and make contact with the pavement, or in Rebbecca's case, fall off altogether.
The friction with the pavement could open holes in the tank, spilling gasoline all over the highwayand creating a fire hazard. No injuries have been reported, but the agency says fires have been reported in two of the incidents.
Meanwhile, a mechanic posted a video on YouTube showing what he said was a completely rusted, and leaking, F150 fuel tank.
Last month Ford expanded its recall of F150 pick-ups to address another problem; front seat airbags have reportedly gone off by themselves. Ford has recalled 1.2 million of the vehicles from the 2004 to 2006 model years.