The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Ford’s newer compact Focus cars. This comes after NHTSA received dozens of complaints that car doors fail to latch and are even prone to opening without warning while driving. The agency launched the investigation Jan. 16 into Ford Motor Co.’s Focus models made between 2012 and 2013 after receiving 73 complaints in recent months from drivers saying their car doors will not close or do not stay closed.
A few drivers claim they have been forced to physically tie the door closed from the inside in order to ensure it stays shut, while several others said they have stopped driving the car entirely for fear of the doors continuing to open while driving. According to NHTSA records, only one driver has reported injury from the possible defect, which was caused when a door rebounded when pushed to close and struck the driver.
NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation said the initial investigation will allow it to “further analyze the scope, frequency and consequence of the alleged incidents.” The agency also said the problem “appears similar” to what forced Ford to recall more than 500,000 cars last year in four separate recalls. In May, Ford launched a recall of about 156,000 additional vehicles that were included in an April recall of about 390,000 2012 to 2014 Ford Fiestas and 2013 to 2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles after the NHTSA found they could all be affected by faulty door latches that blocked doors from closing and could also release while the cars were in motion.
Those recalls followed one in January and one in March of 205,000 Ford Taurus sedans and 213,000 Ford Explorer and Police Interceptor SUVs, respectively, over the same defective door latch. In relation to those vehicles, Ford said the door issues were likely caused by a broken pawl spring tab, which can lead to doors that cannot be closed properly. Two drivers involved in the earlier recalls complained of soreness after being struck by rebounding doors, but NHTSA received hundreds of complaints over the issue and began an initial investigation into Fiesta models in September 2014. The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) also called into question the efficacy of warning signals in the car, since numerous claims said car doors opened while driving.
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