The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 11-month investigation into whether the steel straps holding the fuel tanks on 1997-2001 Ford F-Series pickup trucks can corrode and break has turned into a full-blown recall.
Ford is recalling 1.1 million trucks from the 1997 to 2004 model years, including the 1997-2003 Ford F-150, 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage edition, 1997-1999 Ford F-250 (with a gross vehicle weight rating under 8,500 pounds), and 2002-2003 Lincoln Blackwood.
Trucks included in the recall were originally sold or currently registered in the following cold-weather states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
Exposure to road de-icing chemicals may cause the fuel tank straps to corrode. A fire can start if a dragged fuel tank ruptures from road contact or if the tank falls away completely, causing fuel lines and linkages to leak or break.
Ford says it has eight reports of the tanks falling from F-150 pickups and three related injuries.
Dealers will replace the straps with new ones with more corrosion protection. If no straps are available, the dealer will install a cable support as an interim repair until new straps are available.
If you own an F-150 from the affected model years, you may want to inspect the fuel tank straps to see if there's rust.
Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236.