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Ford admission of cruise control fire danger too late

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While Ford finally admitted that the cruise control wiring in the F150, amongst others, holds a serious risk of catching fire, it comes too late for some families.

Ford refuses the following families compensation saying that, due to the extent of the fire, it cannot be determined what exactly caused the damage. Talk about a Catch-22!

Life-threatening Situations

Hattiesburg, MS Jerri Pittman and husband Ronnie were enjoying a quiet night in the country, relaxing in bed. Jerri was scanning the newspaper, catching up on the day's events, when she heard an explosion. "We live near a military facility, so I didn't think anything of it," she says, calmly recalling what would become a harrowing ordeal. Another bang, this time louder, let her know they were in danger. "The second one was too close. I looked out my window and our truck was on fire. It scared me... [the Ford F150] had two full tanks of gas."

In a brave attempt to save their home, the Pittman's moved quickly to suppress the fire. "I'm not sure how we did it, but we moved our other two vehicles and my husband put the fire out with a garden hose." But it was too late to save the truck. "By this time the truck was pretty much gone," Jerri adds.

Naturally, Jerri and Ronnie want Ford to be held responsible. Despite their determination - and the clear evidence that Ford's cruise control wiring is dangerously faulty - the rural couple can't get any results. "We called Ford and got the obligatory "sorry" letter. I got in touch with the government. I e-mailed back and forth with a lady there for a few months." The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), asked for pictures of the now-destroyed vehicle, but they also made an odd request. "[The NTHSA] wanted the parts," says Jerri, "but they were gone."

The parts, of course, were destroyed in the fire. "That is the last I heard - that was July, 2005... Now, Ford won't help us at all."

Somerset, KY: Dealing with Ford has also been frustrating and futile for Debra and Jimmy Cook. Their 1997 Ford F150 caught fire and was virtually destroyed in January, 2005.

"I was sitting outside my friend's house and happened to pass by the window, looked outside, and the front end of Jimmy's truck was going up in flames," says Debra. "My stepson called the fire department but by the time they got there — 20 minutes later — the fire was coming up from under the hood."

The fire department came as fast as they could, (they know how dangerous a burning car can be with a tank of gas) but it took some time to arrive at this rural residence. "Flames were still coming up from the hood, the windshield had broken with the intense heat and the headliner had melted and dripped down onto the seats."

Debra phoned Ford and got the run-around. "We tried to talk to Ford and ask for some compensation because we didn't have full coverage insurance on the truck," says Debra. "They recognized the problem and then put out the recall but in the meantime there had been numerous incidents, similar to ours, on the national news." Debra and Jimmy kept watching and waiting for a recall. "We phoned Ford many times and wrote several letters. Every time we called or wrote, there was still no recall on this particular truck."

The Cook's vehicle was finally recalled in October, 2005, nine months after it caught fire.

Debra responded to Ford's recall letter. "At that time they told me I would have to contact the local dealership and have them look at the truck," she says. By now, the truck wasn't even on the premises; it had been hauled off to the junkyard. "When I talked to someone in the service department at Alton Blakley Ford Dealership, he knew what had happened. He didn't have to see the car and we had the pictures to prove it," says Debra. Ford wanted the photographs sent to them, specifically of the area where the fire apparently started, i.e. the master cylinder.

Now here is the Catch-22: Ford said it was burned to the point that they couldn't determine where the fire started!

"When I first conversed with Mike Peterson at Ford's consumer affairs, he asked what it would take to satisfy us. I told him that he had a blue book price and that is what Ford owes us, what the truck is worth. He had to meet with his people and get back to me," says Debra. The letter from Ford, dated October 25, 2005, states that, "Due to extensive amount of damage to the vehicle, we were unable to verify the manufacturer's defect."

After this pathetic response from Ford, the Cook's notified the Attorney General in November, 2005. The Attorney General received the evidence: photographs and all correspondence the Cook's had received from Ford. "They [Attorney General's Office] notified Ford, asking them to come to some kind of settlement with us," says Debra. Ford's response was the same again: they had not determined where the fire actually started.

Then the Attorney General asked the Cook's if they were satisfied with Ford's response. The answer: an emphatic NO. "Ford is such a large company, nobody will challenge it, but we aren't backing down," says Debra Cook.

Even with the dangers posed to drivers, it took until September, 2005, before [Ford expanded its recall notice] to include the Pittmans' truck. Ford's recall notice for faulty cruise control wiring includes vehicles equipped with factory-installed speed control:
• 1994-2002 Ford F-150s
• 1997-2002 Ford Expeditions
• 1998-2002 Lincoln Navigators
• 1994-1996 Ford Broncos

If you own any of these vehicles, visit your Ford dealership as soon as possible. If you've been injured or lost property because of the faulty wiring, Ford may be held responsible for your losses.

Resources
Here's a link to [Ford's] website.

Here's a related article with a tragic story: [CNN]

Personal Injury Information
Defective Auto Information

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
Nov 30th 9:00 pm. My farm manager's 1997 F150 burst into flames 48 hours after it had been driven.
I do not know if a previous owner had responded to the factory recall.
Do we have any claim on the Ford Motor Company?
Thanks,
PW

Posted by

on
On june 23,2010 my F150 (2002) burnt it self down and my home and my other cars. the car sat for 2Hr with no keys in it ,windows up and me and my wife, lISA Sitting on the couch watching a movie. And lets see if this sounds fermilure to the rest of us ford owner a loud pop came from the driveway my wife sat up and said what was that? i replied i dont know as a second went buy another pop this one even louder then before........ lisa jumps up to the front door i jump up and started heading for the back door but lisa yelled "tom the truck is on fire" changing my headings to the back door to the front door.. as i step out side i saw flames comming from the drivers side of the hood, this fire took off fast real fast i tryed to put it out with a hose but it was a joke, all that did is get me burnt and smoke inhalation. well by the time the fire department got there the car was burnt down moving its way through the carport burnning my wifes jeep down and other things you name it its was gone.. then it made its way threw the house taking out stuff and what didnt burn got messed up by smoke or by fiberglass or asbestos from the fire department cuting into the roof this is the short version of this story by the way. so the fire inspectore said the fire started on the drivers side of the car wich i all ready knew well the insurence company contacted a indepent fire examiner from PHX Az who is also a chief of the fire department. he came down to Tucson to inspect the fire he came to the same conclution but that there was a recall on the truck for its speedcontroll switch we had know idea that there was one.. Let me make this very clear ford will not help you they wount even admit that there is a problem realy i know! so they took the switch to get exrayed and other tests done on it. so me and lisa called our lawyer three years later a bunch of money, time, and loss of work we went to court well lets just say ford byes the best when it goes to court but the nonsense and circus they put on is crazy there is so much more to say but if ou need info contact me will talk on the phone

Posted by

on
On Dec 23rd, 2012 at approx 7:30pm my 2000 F-150 Lariat Supercab 4X4 5.4V8 with 149749 miles caught fire while parked. This has been a very good, reliable truck. Recall was taken care of, well maintained truck. Drove downtown on a cold snowy nite rented a video, then out to Subway. Shut down the engine walked in ordered sandwich. Walked outside (around 7:30pm) and thought What is that smoke doing coming over the hood. I had no idea my truck was actually on fire. Walked around to the back and looked up front to see flames dropping out behind the front wheel. Called 911, by the time the fire trucks arrived it was shooting some pretty good flames out of the engine compartment. And at that point it was a total loss :( Why did this happen? Engine was off., Faulty cruise controland/or wiring to switch on master cylinder? Thats pretty much a problem according to the net. Total mileage on truck for the year 2012 was 512 miles. Its very heartbreaking actually, I special ordered this, worked hard, paid it off and now its just gone. You would think Ford would compensate some, but they dont even respond. I dont know what I am going to do now. Lucky for me I kept full coverage but I will only get fair market value and will never be able to replace what I had.
Here is a link to pics I took of it: http://imgur.com/a/eKK5R#0

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