NHTSA investigating Ford F150 fuel tank straps - recall coming?
September 13th, 2010 2:58 pm ET
Detroit Autos Examiner
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an
investigation to decide whether 1997-2001 Ford F150s should be recalled over
concerns with corrosion on the fuel tank straps. Evidently, there have been
32 reported cases where the metal straps holding the fuel tank up have
rusted to an extreme point. In 28 of these cases, one or both of the straps
broke but not a single injury, fire or other serious issue was caused by the
aging fuel tank straps failing. If the NHTSA decides that a recall is
necessary, it could impact roughly 1.4 million trucks.
When these metal straps corrode badly enough, the straps will break and
allow the fuel tank to sag. If both straps fail (which they often do when
one fails), the fuel tank can drop from under the vehicle; posing an obvious
safety risk if you are dragging a container full of gas under your truck
I understand that the NHTSA has to check up on things like this, thanks to
Toyota's refusal to acknowledge problems that cost some of their consumers
their lives. However, we are talking about trucks that are generally driven
year-round and metal gas tank straps are going to rust over time. When
working as a mechanic, I lost track of how frequently we replaced tank
straps on all sorts of vehicles (both imports and domestics) and within the
last year, I replaced the straps on one of my Dodge Rams.
When you drive a car or truck through the winter and are bombarding the
undercarriage with road salt, metal components are going to rust. If the
NHTSA requires Ford to recall these F150s due to rust on the fuel tank
straps, it opens a massive can of worms as all sorts of items are going to
rust as the vehicles grow older. This isn't an issue isolated just to Ford,
so will the NHTSA require other companies to replace the tank straps on
vehicles that are as old as the trucks being investigated?
I think that's along the line of what Ed was suggesting, and it's a very
good point. Do I get my '55 Chevy Impala rusted out front fenders replaced
for free because the headlights were falling out? If the NHTSA doesn't thing
THAT'S a safety issue, let them drive down a rural country road at night
while it's raining and turn out the lights. And that was when the car was
only 7 or 8 years old :-)
If nothing else, a few lawsuits like that would certainly force the
companies to have even better rust control than they already have, with the
inevitable consumer price increase.
My 1993 F-150 XL is a Central Florida truck, never been near the salt
water beaches, or up North.
My 1994 F-150 XLT was owned by someone who lived on the Atlantic Coast
of Florida. Has to get a new front bumper, hood. I clean the frame
rails, and all parts, like the tank straps, during the first inspection.
Frame rails get paint. Tanks straps are checked for any damage, and then
they are re-attached, unless they need replacement.
I pulled their tanks, and they are cleaned, inspected, including the
straps, about once after my purchasing them, and then, every year I do
an underbody inspection of my vehicles.
Yes, some of the brake lines needed replacement, on the rear end of both
trucks, due to simple pinholes under some small rust. The new lines got
painted, shiny black, after install.
It is all part of making sure they remain reliable and trustworthy.
Part of the trouble about finding rust or corrosion on our vehicles, is
that the majority don't really get any inspection, because the owners
don't know, and the mechanics haven't any time.
If the dealers or shops listed an annual inspection on the menu, most
folks would not pay for it!
I even see many commercial owner driver Semi trucks with the spring
perches almost falling off, due to loose bolts/nuts, whenever I get to
I am retired USAF, and I believe in PMIs (Preventive Maintenance
Inspections)! At the least, annual scheduled PMIs!
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