WASHINGTON (May 1, 2009)—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ending a preliminary evaluation of alleged tire valve cracks and leaks in 1,095,000 Ford Motor Co. vehicles built between November 2006 and May 2007.
The valves in question were made by Topseal Auto Parts, a subsidiary of Chinese firm Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corp., whose valves were already the subject of safety recalls from two other companies, Tech International Inc. and Dill Air Controls Inc., NHTSA noted. The agency and Ford together received more than 320 complaints regarding leaky tire valves, and Ford received more than 600 warranty claims related to tire valves.
In exchange for NHTSA ending its investigation, Ford promised to send letters to Ford vehicle owners reminding them of the importance of maintaining proper tire inflation and inspecting tires for cracks and other abnormalities. The letters, which will be mailed by mid-May, will include information on inspection of tire valves and offer free dealer inspections to Ford owners. There will be separate letters for vehicles with and without tire pressure monitoring systems, said R.A. Nevi, Ford assistant director for global automotive safety compliance, in an April 6 letter to the agency.
While NHTSA is closing the investigation, that does not mean the agency has concluded the tire valves aren't defective, NHTSA said in its April 9 closing notice.
“The agency will continue to monitor complaints and other information relating to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles, and take further action in the future if warranted,” NHTSA said.