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Interesting piece of news... anyone here with a relevent Ford truck who can share some insight onto the problem? :ph34r:


* Automaker shuns its own engineers' report to recall 4.1 million trucks, SUVs
* Lawsuits mount, blaming problems with door latches for deaths, injuries
* NHTSA reviews whether the company skirted federal rules in avoiding recall

By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Models in question

Ford Motor Co. opted not to recall up to 4.1 million vehicles despite internal questions about their door latches. The vehicles, from model years 1997-2000, include:

F-150

F-250

Expedition

Navigator

Blackwood

WASHINGTON — Ford Motor Co. overruled its own safety engineers’ recommendation to recall up to 4.1 million pickups and sport utility vehicles that were found to have substandard door latches, according to internal company documents that have surfaced in recent court cases.

A Ford safety engineering team determined in March 2000 that door latches on certain 1997-2000 model light trucks — including popular F-150, F-250, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models — didn’t meet federal safety standards, the documents show.

Ford ordered immediate design changes for future vehicles. But the automaker decided against a recall — which could have cost up to $527 million — after the company determined the latches could pass a rarely used alternative compliance test.

The decision could haunt Ford, which now faces a slew of product liability lawsuits stemming from fatal accidents where vehicle doors flew open and plaintiffs’ lawyers are blaming latch failure.

Federal safety officials, meanwhile, are reviewing allegations that Ford skirted federal laws by failing to recall the 4.1 million vehicles and alert the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the latch issue.

Ford maintains the door latches are safe and in compliance with federal laws.

“Ford’s extensive crash testing of the F-Series truck demonstrates that the doors remain closed during a variety of crashes,” said Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes.

“Compliance to (federal safety standards), crash testing, and real-world data from years of on-road experience show the vehicles, including the door latches, to be safe.”

Lawyers suing Ford say the company’s internal documents paint a detailed picture of an automaker failing to address a safety issue because of financial concerns.

“It’s clear to me that Ford realized the product was dangerous and should be recalled,” said Jeff Wigington, a lawyer representing victims in door-latch lawsuits.

The internal documents, produced by Ford under court order, have emerged in court cases involving deaths and injuries in crashes when vehicle doors have flown open.

The memos and documents provide a rare glimpse into the decision-making process of an automaker confronted by a safety concern. They show the problem had been investigated by a team of engineers who discovered a manufacturing error by a parts supplier and recommended a recall to replace the handles on vehicles already on the road.

Source: http://www.detnews.com/2004/autosinsider/0.../a01-139819.htm
 
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