Investigating Ford pickups that burst into flames

Thursday, December 30th 2004, 3:22 pm
By: News On 6

The complaints against Ford’s most popular truck have prompted a federal investigation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started looking into the issue last month after a number of truck owners across the country filed complaints.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains which vehicles could be affected.

The NHTSA is taking a closer look at 2000 F-150's, Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators. The agency has reports of 36 cases where the vehicles burst into flame, all after being parked for quite some time. A Verdigris woman questioned the probe until her own truck caught fire Wednesday night, nearly costing her, her home and much more. Trisha Delozier: “Well, I was asleep and my daughter has a little friend staying the night and they heard my truck alarm go off."

The kids thought someone was trying to steal the truck, but Trisha Delozier smelled smoke. "So I called 911. By that time I could see black smoke trying to seep into the kitchen."

Fire crews tore open the garage and found the source, Delozier's 2000 F-150. "We really don't know what happened except it started in the truck." What she doesn't understand is how a fire could start after the truck had been parked in the garage for nearly 6 hours. Investigators say that was the case in all of the complaints, that the vehicle has been parked, ignition off, when somehow, something under the hood ignited.

Officials say the fires may be related to a cruise control deactivation switch. Ford Motor Company issued a response, stating "Ford is aware of the investigation and we are cooperating fully with the agency. At this time, we are in the investigation stage and it would be premature to speculate as to an outcome of this matter."

Whatever the outcome, the Delozier family is grateful all five people in their home escaped with their lives. “Any other night, if she didn't have a little girl staying over, we'd have all been asleep and might not have heard it."

The federal probe involves about 600,000 vehicles. This is not a recall, officials say that there were enough similar complaints to warrant an investigation. They will review the evidence then decide whether a defect exists and if a recall is necessary.

They say anyone with concerns should contact Ford.