When car buyers purchase a new vehicle, they assume the car manufacturer has adhered to minimum crash standards set by the federal government. While these standards are often generous to auto companies to start with, sometimes defective vehicles and vehicle parts that do not meet the minimum safety standards slip through the cracks. While mistakes during manufacturing are generally unintentional, the reality is that auto recalls are often more costly than settling auto accident claims.
The infamous case of the Ford Pintos in the 1970’s shows a frightening picture of the willingness of the automobile industry to put profits ahead of drivers’ safety. Although many of us regard the Pinto case as a lesson learned through tragedy, auto companies still aim to minimize their losses when recalls are necessary. By allowing defective and unsafe parts to be used in their vehicles, these manufacturers cause many serious injuries and even unnecessary deaths each year.
Between 1997 and 2000, the Ford Motor Company released a series of trucks – including F-150, F-250, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator – that were equipped with door latches that did not meet the minimum safety standards. These door handles, released by Donnelly Corp, could not withstand the 30 G’s of force, that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 206 requires. A recall of the defective latches was scheduled during March 2000, and plans were made to increase the force of the latch springs.
However, a month later, Ford cancelled the recall. One of Ford’s engineers decided the door latch could pass a different test that only required that the handles could withstand a brief pulse of pressure instead of prolonged force. Moreover, although the improved handles were released for subsequent models of the trucks, truck owners with a defective door latch were never notified about the safety hazard.
Ford has worked diligently with their attorneys over the past four years to avoid liability from any injuries or deaths supposedly caused by a defective door latch. Nevertheless, an increasing number of defective door latch lawsuits have emerged in the past year throughout the nation. Several cases have quietly been settled in cash, with no courtroom involved.
FAQs and Defective Door Latch Information
What constitutes a vehicle defect?
There are three types of vehicle defects:
• A manufacturing defect generally means the failure to include a required safety mechanism in an automobile.
• A design defect causes injury or death due to a poor design decision, like placing a fuel tank too close to a frequent impact position.
• Failure to warn occurs when the manufacturer of an automobile containing an unsafe feature fails to adequately warn car owners of this issue.
How do I find out if my vehicle contains the purportedly defective door latch?
The following models of Ford trucks, manufactured between the years of 1997 and 2000, may have been affected by the defective door latch: