Ford F150 fuel tank strap investigation expanded
The NHTSA hasn’t indicated exactly what caused the huge spike in 1997-2001 Ford F150 models included in the ongoing investigation, but the federal agency has announced that the scope of this fuel tank strap failure investigation has nearly doubled from their original estimate.
The investigation opened last September, after the NHTSA had received 32 complaints about the straps holding the fuel tank to the chassis rusted to the point of failure. Since then, that number has ballooned to 306 complaints made to both Ford and the NHTSA, causing the agency to expand their investigation. In 243 of the complaints, the fuel tank straps broke and the tank was dragging on the ground under the vehicle and in 95 cases, the dragging and impact caused fuel leakage. Recently, these strap failures have caused two vehicle fires – one of which totally destroyed the vehicle.
The fuel tank straps on the 1997-2001 Ford F150 are made of steel – like most vehicles. Unfortunately, it seems that these straps are wearing much more quickly than they should be, most likely due to excessive levels of corrosion (rust) and when one or both of them breaks, the only things holding the fuel tank in the truck are the fuel lines. This allows the tank to drop down to the ground and drag; along with putting extreme levels of stress on the fuel lines that aren’t designed to be load-bearing. When you are dragging a fuel tank filled with gasoline on the ground, creating damage to the tank and sparks – there is a massive risk of fire.
Considering the growth in the number of complaints over the past few months, the NHTSA could decide that these 2.7 Ford F150s need to be recalled. Luckily, fuel tank straps are fairly easy to replace for a dealership technician so should Ford need to call them back – the fix should be quick and easy. Also, if you own a 1997-2001 Ford F150 and are concerned with this problem, taking a good hard look at the entire length of your fuel tank straps should offer you an idea as to whether or not you should address the issue or not.
TorqueNews.com will bring you more information as it becomes available.