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U.S. is probing Ford tire valves

The investigation into faulty Chinese-made stems involves a dozen 2007 models.

October 22, 2008|The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The government is investigating more than 1 million Ford Motor Co. vehicles after receiving reports of tires leaking from faulty valve stems made by a Chinese company.

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said Tuesday that the investigation involved vehicles with the tire valves, including 12 models from the 2007 model year cited by the government. Ford has received some complaints but no reports of crashes or injuries.

The valves are used on most new Ford vehicles except for certain types of F-Series Super Duty Trucks and Econoline vans, Sherwood said.

"We've seen reports of cracking and leaking. We have not identified a risk to motor vehicle safety," Sherwood said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received 37 complaints of faulty valve stems but no crashes or injuries had been reported.

In 23 of the complaints, the vehicle had more than one valve that was "severely cracked or cracked and leaking" and needed replacement.

Eleven complaints said the valves led to lost tire inflation and required the tire to be replaced.

The models with the valve stems are the Ford F-150, Mustang, Edge, Fusion, Expedition, Explorer, Focus and Escape, and the Mercury Grand Marquis, MKX, MKZ and Milan. The valves are made by Topseal Automotive, a subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corp.

The NHTSA said it had opened a preliminary evaluation to "assess the scope, frequency and safety consequences" of the alleged defect in the Ford tires. Defect investigations can lead to vehicle recalls.

The highway safety agency opened a separate investigation in May into 23 million valve stems manufactured by Shanghai Baolong in 2006. The NHTSA said more than 4,700 complaints had been filed because of the valve stems, including allegations of a fatal rollover crash involving a 1998 Ford Explorer in November 2007.

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