The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched this preliminary investigation after receiving five complaints from owners of the 2008 Ford Super Duty pickup. Those five complaints alleged that while being driven, the steering system in the brawny Ford pickup failed and the driver was unable to control the vehicle. No injuries have been reported but there have been several accidents reported as a result of the steering box failure.
In one case, the driver of a 2008 Ford Super Duty F350 lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a parked car at a speed of around 20 miles per hour. The driver in this vehicle believed that the steering failure was due to a heavy load (which is surprising considering that the F350 is one of the most capable trucks on the market in terms of hauling and towing). A second report claims that a 2008 F250 with around 55,000 miles logged had the steering system fail and the driver was unable from crashing into the guard rail while a third accident occurred when the steering failure caused the truck to run off of the road surface – although it sounds as though that truck didn’t hit anything.
While five complaints is a relatively small sample size to cause the new NHTSA investigation of the 2008 Ford Super Duty pickup, the “risk factor” involved with any type of mechanical failure is taken into consideration during the investigation process. If this was something like a tail light not working properly on five vehicles out of 340,000 sold, it may not be that big of a concern as the real risk to the occupants of the Ford truck or others on the road is fairly low. On the other hand, having a large vehicle like the Ford F250 or F350 rolling down the road with no means of steering the truck presents a much more significant level of risk so the feds are more likely to get into an investigation for an issue like this one.
It will be interesting to see how this NHTSA investigation plays out as the Ford Super Duty is one of the hardest working trucks sold in America and that means that the vehicles in question could have been – for lack of a better term – beaten on. I have been involved with more than one job where a Ford F350 was used for heavy hauling and towing duties and if the owners of these five 2008 Ford pickups were exceeding the capacities of their trucks, the feds may find that those problems occurred due to user error and not a mechanical failure. This seems more likely with the driver of the truck which struck the parked vehicle referenced a weight issue…although it is unclear whether or not he was carrying or towing a load within the stated capacities of the F350.
This preliminary investigation by the NHTSA could be the first step towards a mandated recall of some 340,000 Ford Super Duty pickups from the 2008 model year. Should the feds find some mechanical issue on each vehicle that is prone to cause a steering failure, the US safety crew will then proceed to the engineering analysis stage where they will more closely examine the components involved in the steering failure. Based on those findings, the NHTSA can require a recall but in many cases – both the preliminary investigation and the engineering analysis stage end without any further action required of the automaker involved.
Source: The Detroit News