In response to a growing number of complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded a probe regarding a staggering 2.7 million 1997-01 Ford F-150 Pickups, where fuel tank straps have rusted, failed and in some cases caused vehicle fires. This follows on from another NHTSA investigation, that became a recall, regarding faulty airbags on Ford's best selling pickup truck, that ultimately included 1.2 million vehicles, albeit from the 2004-06 model years.
In regards to the fuel tank issue, NHTSA has said that over 300 complaints have been reviewed and of those, two actual incidents of the vehicles catching fire have been reported, though in both cases, no injuries or fatalities resulted.
Ford spokesman, Wes Sherwood, said the company was " aware of the matter," and will "continue to cooperate [with NHTSA]."
The heart of the investigation relates to the fact that the steel straps are essentially the only thing holding the tank to the frame of the truck. If the straps corrode, they can snap, causing the tank to drop down and in some cases drag on the ground, which can cause perforation, fuel leakage and potentially a fire to result.
More: 2.7 Million Ford F-150 Trucks Under Investigation for Fuel Tank Issues