NHTSA Expands Investigation Into Ford F-150 Fuel Tank Straps

NHTSA Expands Investigation into Ford F-150 Fuel Tank Straps

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded its ongoing investigation into whether the steel straps holding the fuel tanks on 1997-2001 Ford F-150 pickups can corrode and break, leading to a fire risk.

Last September, NHTSA said it was looking into 32 complaints among 1.4 million Ford half-ton trucks  where the straps showed signs of rust or had failed. Six of the cases involved fuel spilling when the tank dropped or detached, but no fires were reported. 

Now, NHTSA reports up to 2.73 million F-150 pickups from the 1997-2001 model years could be recalled after 243 rusty-strap incidents were reported either to NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation or to Ford.

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.

"Ninety-five involved fuel leakage and nine included reports of sparks from the tank being dragged on the road," reads the ODI report. "ODI has received one report of strap failure in which the leaking fuel ignited but self-extinguished. Ford reported another incident in which the leaking fuel ignited and the resultant fire destroyed the vehicle."

Ford safety spokesman Wes Sherwood told the Detroit News that the company was working with NHTSA.

"We are aware of the matter, and we're going to continue to cooperate," Sherwood said.

If you own an F-150 from the affected model years, you may want to visually inspect the fuel tank straps to see if there's rust.

[Source: The NHTSA via The Detroit News]


this can happen to anything please check and maintain your straps.

My buddy had a 80's cavalier that he is still awaiting a replacement door for the same rust spot you saw on every car.

Why did it take 32 complaints, shouldn't it be reported after 1 as front page news?

@oxi: I must be biased against Ford, right? This is the second post on an *investigation* into the F-150's fuel tank straps. It's not even a recall yet.

32 complaints on 1.5million trucks! come on OXI, give us a brake will ya! a fuel tank strap is very minor compared to frame rot. Sure it could pose a danger, but if the vehicle is inspected once a year it should be discovered by the tech who inspects it no? and these are 10-14yr old trucks to boot! That, and Mike L has been very even in all his reporting, he has even removed some of what I think are very minor comments, that I directed back to you, so show in some respect.

BUAHHAHAHAHAHA! Goes to show that being the best selling anything dosent mean squat!

I remember a few years ago Mitshubishi cars straps were not strapped in properly,when the person filled the tank,the tank dropped to the ground...Almost as bad as the brand new Toyota Echo's that the transmissions fell out of the car because they were not mounted in ! Those happened when new,not 14 or so years later as in the Ford's case.

What is it with Ford trucks catching fire?
Must be because they've been the hottest selling trucks on the road for the last 3 or so decades. LOL

All kidding aside - where does corporate responsibility end and personal responsibility start?

(Oxi - if you recall (pardon the pun) - I said the same thing in relation to some of toyota's recalls).

First the brake pressure switch failure which could possibly cause a fire and now this why does the pickup truck community give ford a pass on this stuff if were tundra the big 3 owners would call the tundra the biggest pos ever built and bash it to no end. Tundra has a frame problem=pos, F150 has a possible fire problem or the airbag may deploy for no reason=no big deal. All im saying is both trucks have had problems people should not bash other people's trucks.

it doesn't get any better lol just threw a match everone fords like to be on fire

I imagine you'd have to be dragging the gas tank for a while to go through all the metal and bladder lining......

I just want to know when MIKE LEVINE is going to do a NEW heavy duty shootout!!!! 765 vs 800 vs 800... mike where is our CUMMINS HIGH OUTPUT REPORT?!?!?!?!

@George Kawalski: We're doing it July 11-18. :-)

I wonder how long it will take for a recall to occur on the low slung, outside the frame DEF tank on GM HD's?
Every time I see one I cringe.
A perfect spot for sticks, stumps, rocks and logs to tear it open or tear it off. I wonder how it would fare in a side impact?
DEF doesn't combust like gasoline so it probably will never be a recall.

The 1997-2003 F-150's were not the best trucks Ford ever built, that's for sure.

Somebody should share this with Hayzee in the comments section of this page http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2011/05/04/us-auto-industry-failure-excuses/#comments
Every truck has its problem I meam the 1st generation tundra had a frame made of paperclips. I could only imagine if I had a truck with one of these problems like if the bed bounce on my 2 generation tundra was more serious and after going down in unpaved road about a mile later I look in the rearview and realize my tundra has become a chassis cab. You park your truck and go into a store only here an announcement will the owner of a ford pickup with the license plate number 1234567 please go to the parking lot your truck is on fire.

Ford, unlike Toyota, will own this concern and remedy it!
U.S.A. all the way!

Wow, all the excuses from the Ford camp and Mile levine yet the Toyota bashing continues...

Ofcourse no recall, how dare Ford get a recall, only other makes!

Where is Ray LaHood? He should demand these pickups be removed from the roads, oh wait, UAW money, so he will be silent about this...

That new vacation home to be quiet must be sweet!

So why isn't Ford voluntarily recalling their rusty pickups?

Are they too arrogant to the concerns of safety?

Remember the air bag recall? Ford did not want to do any massive recall until the NHTSA stepped in to do their jobs finally!

Wow, Ford does not care about their customers or safety, Ford should have issued a voluntary recall immedietly!

Maybe the Japanese government should open an inquiry into Ford and demand their CEO to testify while the Japanese government holds public hearing with no credibility or proof of anything and the Japanese government should just fabricate things in the media and later go quiet when the facts present themselves...

That would be sweet!

"Maybe the Japanese government should open an inquiry into Ford and demand their CEO to testify while the Japanese government holds public hearing with no credibility or proof of anything and the Japanese government should just fabricate things in the media and later go quiet when the facts present themselves...

That would be sweet!" -oxi

That would be hot! For the couple of thousand Fords that the Japanese government "allowed" (unfair importing standards) into their precious country. Talk about protectionism. The U.S.A. should operate in the same way to make the trade situation even.

Mike Levine-

oxi is right! Can you close this, Ford Investigation, story please. Bad people keep saying bad things about...Toyota!

Fords seem to always have an issue with catching on fire.

This may get me bashed or banned or deleted, but. Oxi, bob, may i ask your approximate height? also ballpark income now, and through childhood? Did either play sports? Were you only child's? Or have a large family? I mean this in no way insulting. Just happen to be employed in the psychiatric field.

Awesome Mike! Make it good! Make sure that the RAM has 4.10 gear ratios since the 68RFE has such high gear ratios. If you take the TorqShift and combine it with a 3.55 it has lower final drive ratios than a 68RFE with 4.10's.... Single rear wheel testing is what I'm talking about. It would be nice to see a Chevy 2500 3.73 Duramax SRW Short Bed vs RAM 2500 4.10 Cummins SRW Short Bed vs Ford F250 3.55 Power Stroke SRW short bed... Pulling at LEAST 12,000 lbs

This just proves Fords are junk, I mean NO OTHER truck would have ANY rust issues when they are 10-13 years old! Can you imagine all the potential issues that will arise when the Ford techs perform the labor intensive and complicated gas tank strap replacement? SO many things could go wrong, I mean, it's not a simple fix like replacing a frame perforated by rust.

These trucks are 10yrs old, at what point is it not possible to issue a recall? I believe that recalls are there to keep us safe and all but how long are these auto companies responsible to cover these vehicles?

I can't wait to read more about the HO Cummins, hopefully the automatic transmission doesn't hold it back.

OXI you are realy unbelieveable, the last Ford truck I seen with a rotted frame was at least 10 yrs OLDER than my buddies tacho that toyota replaced the frame on, an my 2003 Dakota has very little rust on the frame, and he and I go out on the beach more than most!, I have even been caught out past the tide line a couple of times and had to drive back through over a foot of salt water, he always quit fishin so he didn't have to drive through the water.


That is personal stuff, I have seen my fair share of rusty Ford's, GM's and Dodge's on the road!

If you take care of it, you should not have problems.

I raced my 1986 Toyota pickup down in Mexico after I spent quite a few years of heavy mudding with it and many, many Wisconsin winters. I raced it from 1995-1999 and NO frame issues whatsoever!

the trucks are at least 10 years old... how can you pick on something that is 2 body styles old for christ sake, thats like saying , "god my ford sucks the motor blew and its only an 82 what the hell" rust happens idiots. I happen to own a 99 f150 with the 5.4L it has never once given me any problems and it has 377xxx km. I got it in 2000 and the only "repairs" I have made are new tires and brakes once a year

@ Mike L I wish you had not have announced the New HD shootout... Now Just like the previous rumble in the rockies, I will be anxiously awaiting the results. lol I love the new HD's (especially the Ford). I would love to see at least part of the test at lower elevation or even at very near sea level. I live in Alabama, and although I do travel, chances of doing so in those extreme elevations are slim to none for me personally. Also the duramax has already proved to dominate at high elevation. But I have to say I love the web site, and visit daily ever since finding it several months ago. I think you guy's (and gal's?) do a great job! I know there is no possible way to please everyone, but Keep up the great work! Thanks again for providing me hours of entertainment and useful information, and now I'm anxiously awaiting the new HD article. Will it be 3/4, 1 ton or a combination?

@ Mike Levine : i believe those trucks pictured above are 1997-2003 . not 1997-2001. unless you are talking about just those specific years.

OXI it is true, if you take are of it , it will take care of you, but when we drove on the beach together, we also hosed off the trucks together, lot of good it did for his tachomly HEHEHE

my father inlaw told me about the possable recall lastnight i got under my truck today to find one of my straps is rusted out. ford has taken care of there problems every time it comes up, that is y I will alway go with ford because of that.
(rust is one of ford biggest problems like the bottoms of the doors ,and rocker panels they do need to think about using seam sealer and under coating)

My 2002 f150 fuel tank dropped on the 401 out of Windsor On. I think this is clearly a design fault as there should be two safety straps as a back up to the main straps. A simple stainless steel wire would be all it needed... we have them in light fixtures to prevent injury why the hell shouldn't there be some on a large tank of highly explosive petroleum which when it drops hits the road and causes serious likely hood of fire. There are many more F150s in a highly dangerous state out there.....life is cheap and Ford are making billions in profit ...who cares eh?

As I was coming down the street to my house yesterday afternoon, I noticed something hanging down under my wife's F150 which was parked on the driveway. It was what was left of the front fuel tank strap. So, this morning I went to my local Ford dealership and bought a new pair of straps and installed them. I was disappointed by the flimsy design, which seems certain to fail due to corrosion well within the expected lifetime of the vehicle (hers has only 52k miles on it). But, I didn't dwell on it too much, until I heard a story on the local news this afternoon about a "HAZMAT" cleanup at the site where the fuel tank dropped out of an F150 on Highway 45 in Milwaukee earlier today. I think Ford owes me a refund on the OEM replacement straps and a new set of straps of an improved design.

I have a 2000 F-150 the fuel straps are rusting but my problem is throughout the years the strap rubs against the fuel tank and now I have a leaking tank. I contacted the Ford dealer in my area but I was told they can replace the straps free but would not replace the straps with a leaking gas tank. A new Ford motor tank cost $700 and they would not replace the straps if I bought an aftermarket tank I know my truck is old but that is all I can afford. Since I have been a Ford owner for 50 years I hoped to get better results

99 chevy truck front gas tank strap rusted though.Noticed gas tank hanging down 8 in. off ground when i got home.Straps are plastic coated steel and water trapped between plastic and steel rusting thought.Could have been deadly for my family and who ever was behind me with 30 gallons of gas hitting the road.Just lucky I noticed it and front strap held.

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