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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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Faulty Ford spark plug causes fires.

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Federal agency says it’s not bothered by it.

Defective Ford truck spark plugs are costing car owners more than time and money, according to a very interesting article posted on www.consumeraffairs.com.

The article by Joe Benton, posted Sunday, says thousands of truck owners have paid thousands of dollars to repair the damage caused by the Ford Triton V-8 engine spitting a spark plug from its aluminum cylinder head. But Benton writes that a Huntington beach man saw his 1997 F250 reduced to a mass of charred rubber, melted glass and frayed wires.

The first plug on this man’s truck blew from the number three cylinder on the passenger side. That was repaired and then 200 miles later the number four cylinder from the same side spit a spark plug. Only, this time, the loose plug started a fuel fire and burned the truck down to the axles in 12 minutes. The truck was completely destroyed.

Other consumers, who wrote to the Web site, agree this could cause a lot of harm.

“Truly this is a dangerous situation because the fuel rail is right above the coil and spark plug. If this rail and injector break when the plug blows out this could result in a fire,” said Robert of Quarryville, Pennsylvania, whose 2001 F250 Super Duty Crew Cab blew its #3 spark plug a few weeks ago.

But what does the National Highway Transportation Safety Administrators have to say? No problem. That’s their answer.

According to the article, NHTSA officials disagree with these consumers’ warnings saying that “no one is going to die because, as they see it, the spark plug issue presents no serious safety consequence.”

An attorney in Santa Clarita had petitioned NHTSA, asking it to investigate reports that Ford SUVs, pickups, Crown Victorias and Mustangs sold in the 1997-2004 model years had spark plugs that can come loose and fly through the hood.

But it seems the federal agency, funded by taxpayer dollars, is backing Ford. Officials denied to consider all these complaints saying that their analysis found that the 474 complaints “found only a very few alleged any safety-related consequences. None of these showed any evidence of a serious safety consequence.”

For its part, Ford continues to deny the problem and refuses to acknowledge any responsibility, a policy that is causing unrest among Ford service managers and technicians. According to the article, one service technician recently told ConsumerAffairs.Com that, even when Ford agrees to repair one of the engines, it pays dealers so little for the repair that the technicians end up working free hours.

NHTSA concluded its brief investigation with this statement: “In the need to allocate and prioritize limited resources to best accomplish the agency’s safety mission, the petition (for a full-scale investigation possibly leading to a recall) is denied.”

At Bisnar|Chase, we’ve seen that they have a track record with denial. They’ve denied that their Ford Escort front seatbacks are not up to standard and have caused several fatalities. They continue to deny that their Ford Explorers have a roof-crush issue in rollover accidents.

They deny there are any problems with their 15-passenger E-350 van (see what NHTSA has to say about this van http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/15PassVans/15PassCustomerAdvisory.htm). And the list goes on.

As for NHTSA’s statement, it sounds as though not enough people have died for them to spend their “resources”.. Recently thousands of 2008 Ford trucks were recalled for causing tailpipe fires. The spark plug issue seems to be a dangerous one and if Ford or NHTSA don’t address the problem, it could be very costly in terms of life and of course, litigation for Ford. However, the number of vehicle’s that would have to be recalled due to the spark plug issues is probably hundreds of times more than the number recalled for the tailpipe issue.

Know of a manufacturing or design defect in an production automobile, truck or van? I’d like to hear about it.

Do you suspect that a traffic accident injury or death was caused or contributed to by a manufacturing or design defect, I’d also like to hear about it.