The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will open a preliminary evaluation into potential steering issues on around 500,000 Ford Motor Co. sedans, including 2004-2007 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Mercury Marauder units. The move came after NHTSA received five complaints, including one reported injury.
According to the agency, it will look into “incidents of steering shaft obstruction caused by interference from a dislodged heat shield.” For instance, a 2004 Crown Victoria in the Detroit area rolled over after its steering locked, and the driver received neck and lower back injuries.
In a complaint, the driver said he found the heat shield under his car, which apparently had rusted off. The complaint attributed the event to salt corrosion. Other complaints tell of tight or difficult steering, which sometimes had required the drivers to use “bodily force” to turn the wheel in the 2004 Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis.
Ford recalled in August 2013 around 335,000 MY2005-2011 Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars in states with heavy salt use over possible corrosion of the lower intermediate shaft, which could lead the upper intermediate steering shaft to collapse.
Ford called back the models following an NHTSA probe prompted by 22 incidents related to steering separation. NHTSA typically launched a preliminary evaluation when consumer complaints or service bulletins indicate potential defect. Such probe could either result to a closure or an engineering analysis -- the latter could end up in a recall.