NHTSA Reviewing Petition To Open Investigation Into Ford Vehicle Lighting Issues

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened and closed an investigation into lighting issues in several models of Ford vehicles back in 2008 without demanding a recall. That decision apparently isn’t sitting well with a consumer group that has petitioned the agency to reopen the case after receiving additional complaints.

The Detroit News reports that NHTSA will review a petition to open another formal investigation into 517,945 model year 2003 to 2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles known to have lighting problems.

According to a notice [PDF] from NHTSA, the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation received a petition from the North Carolina Consumers Council Inc. requesting an investigation into an alleged defect that results in headlight and/or exterior lighting failure in the vehicles.

The potential defect centers on the lighting control module that powers the vehicle headlights, an unknown issue can result in the loss of vehicle headlights and all exterior lighting without warning while the car is in motion.

The North Carolina Consumers Council tells NHTSA it was recently contacted by the owner of a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis that has been found to have a failed lighting control module by a Ford dealership.

The group says in its petition that consumers have provided 604 complaints on NHTSA’s website, seven of which included crashes following the failure of the lighting control module and subsequent failure of vehicle lighting while driving.

“This data indicates that the failure rates for the components is increasing with age,” the petition states.

“Due to the number of complaints, the information provided in the aforementioned Preliminary Analysis and the unavailability of replacement parts despite an extended warranty being in place, I am requesting on behalf of the Complainant and the motoring public that a new defect investigation be opened concerning this matter for the subject vehicles, to be expanded at your discretion to include other models that have the same design part,” Matthew Oliver, executive director of the North Carolina group, writes in the petition.

NHTSA previously opened an investigation into the issue in 2008. While that probe ended without a recall, Ford did set up a program in which it would offer an extended warranty for the subject vehicles for the lighting control module for 15 years or 250,000 miles.

However, the North Carolina Consumers Council states that Ford dealers have reported that replacement lighting control modules are not available for the vehicles and have not been available since May 2014.

NHTSA says it will evaluate the issue and make a decision whether or not open an informal investigation.

U.S. reviews 517K older Ford cars for lighting defect [The Detroit News]