NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2003 Ford Crown Victoria

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2003 Ford Crown Victoria, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. SPARK PLUG EJECTION FROM CYLINDER HEAD NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP05005

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: September 22, 2005
    • Date Closed: January 04, 2006
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline

    Summary: On September 6, 2005, ODI received a petition requesting that the Agency investigate allegations of engine spark plug ejection in certain model year 1997 through 2004 Ford vehicles with Triton V-8 and V-10 engines.ODI received a total of 474 non-duplicative complaints on the subject vehicles where the complainant, or the dealer repairing the vehicle, reported that a spark plug detached from the cylinder and/or ejected from the engine.as of December 8, 2005, ODI is not aware of any allegations where the alleged defect resulted in a loss of vehicle control, a crash, an injury, or a fatality in any of the 10,319,810 subject vehicles.in addition, ODI is aware of only two incidents where the vehicle stalled without restart.information contained in the ODI consumer complaints and obtained from 72 telephone interviews with complainants showed the following:(1) 99% of the complaints were on MY 1997 to 2002 subject vehicles.(2) most the complainants reported hearing a loud pop while driving or upon starting up the vehicle followed by a loud, repetitive clicking or popping sound.(3) many of the complainants reported that the popping sound was accompanied by some loss of vehicle power; however, in 99% of the incidents reported, the vehicle did not stall.in the very few incidents where the vehicle did stall, most vehicles could be restarted.(4) only a small percentage of the complainants cited that they smelled gas or a slight burning smell when the incident occurred.(5) in all but a very few incidents, vehicle damage was limited to the engine.in one incident, the complaint reported that the fuel rail was damaged and replaced after one of the spark plugs ejected from the engine; however, the complainant reported that the damage did not result in any type of fuel leak or fire.in another incident, the only incident where a fire was alleged, the complainant reported that no fluid leak was observed, but that a fire resulted after the spark plug had ejected from the engine and he had restarted the vehicle and driven to another location.none of the complainants reported any damage to the vehicle hood.(6) only two complainants reported that they observed what appeared to be some drops of fuel coming from the cylinder where the spark plug had failed or on the spark plug itself; however, each of these complainants reported that there was no smoke or flames as a result of his incident.as the petitioner noted, and ODI's analysis showed, it is possible for a spark plug to detach from the engine cylinder threads in the subject vehicles.however, ODI's analysis of 474 complaints describing such incidents found only a very few alleged any safety-related consequences.none of these showed any evidence of a serious safety consequence.given the large population and relatively long exposure time of the subject vehicles, the complaint analysis indicates that the risk to motor vehicle safety from the alleged defect is very low.in view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order for the notification and remedy of the alleged defect at the conclusion of the investigation requested in the petition.therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the Agency's safety mission, the petition is denied.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #DP05005 »

  2. Loss of headlights NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE15028

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened an investigation concerning the loss of headlights in model year (MY) 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles. The subject vehicles share the same architecture and major components.ODI has received 636 unique reports (for all submission dates) related to the alleged defect, with owners describing a loss of both low and/or high beam headlights occurring while driving.ODI identified 4 Vehicle Owner Questionnaire ( VOQ) reports alleging minor crash or loss of control incidents due to headlight failures.Drivers alleged running off of the road due to a lack of headlights and one driver reportedly struck a deer.No injuries were indicated in the VOQ crashes.In response to ODI's Information Request (IR) letter, Ford Motor Company (Ford) responded with 4173 unique reports related to the alleged problem.There were a total of 11 crashes reported within that group as well as one injury that occurred when the vehicle struck an unseen object on the side of the road when the headlights failed. Ford also submitted 49,843 warranty claims related to headlight failures.Most reports indicate that the headlights failed without warning leaving the driver with no forward lighting, however some noted the headlights flickered or dimmed prior to turning off.Consumers also noted they were able to hold the "flash to pass" lever on the steering column mounted stalk to activate the high beams however this is only effective as long as the lever is physically actuated.On December 21st, 2015 Ford notified ODI that it would conduct a safety recall (15V-861) to remedy headlight failures on (MY) 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles.According to Ford, the headlights of the vehicle are controlled by the Lighting Control Module (LCM) located in the engine compartment of the vehicle.The LCM uses an internal relay, mounted to a circuit board, to control power to the headlights. The headlight relay is soldered to the circuit board at six different terminals. The original equipment LCMs were manufactured in a manner that resulted in the solder joints fatiguing and/or cracking as a result of repeated thermal cycling and/or vibration, a defect condition. The condition could be exacerbated by manufacturing quality issues such as an insufficient amount of solder, effecting the continuity between the circuit board and the relay terminal, and resulting in loss of headlights while driving.Other lighting functions are unaffected by this condition.The LCM manufacturing processes were revised to address the defect condition and Ford has been conducting a warranty extension program to cover defective LCMs since late 2013.Under the recall Ford will replace any remaining defective LCMs in recalled vehicles with remedy LCMs once they become available.See NHTSA recall 15V-861 for further details on the safety recall.The recall action initiated by Ford addresses the safety risks of concern to ODI.Accordingly, the investigation is closed.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at SaferCar.gov under the identification (ODI) numbers found in the attached list.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE15028 »

  3. Loss of headlamp/exterior lighting NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP15002

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: April 01, 2015
    • Date Closed: August 11, 2015
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights

    Summary: In a letter dated October 2, 2014 the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) was initially petitioned by the North Carolina Consumers Council, Inc. requesting a defect investigation of an alleged defect condition resulting in headlight and/or exterior lighting failure on 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles.ODI analyzed Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) complaints received from consumers and identified a total of 605 reports (for all submission dates) alleging headlight failure.The complaints indicate failures of both low beam headlights typically while driving, a defect condition that was evaluated under a prior ODI investigation (PE08066).Most consumer VOQs indicate that the headlights failed suddenly and without warning leaving the driver with no forward lighting, however some report the headlights flickered or dimmed prior to turning off.In some cases drivers were able to turn the headlights back on after a period of time while others reported the headlights would not come back on at all.Consumers noted they were able to hold the "flash to pass" lever on the steering column mounted stalk to activate the high beams however this is only effective as long as the lever is actuated.ODI identified 4 VOQ reports alleging minor crash or loss of control incidents due to headlight failures.Drivers indicated running off of the road due to a lack of headlights and one driver reportedly struck a deer.No injuries were indicated in the VOQ crashes.In response to ODI's April 7, 2015 Information Request letter, Ford provided data indicating it has received 3,092 complaints of failed headlights related to the Lighting Control Module (LCM), a device that controls the headlights and other lighting functions.This number includes the complaints Ford reviewed and classified as headlight failure due specifically to the LCM.Within Ford's complaints, there are 11 reports alleging a crash occurred.These drivers reported hitting objects, including other vehicles after the headlights failed causing damage to the affected vehicles.One driver was injured when their car struck an unseen object in the road, jerking the steering wheel from their hands and injuring their shoulder.In total 15 crash allegations were identified, all of which have occurred since ODI's prior evaluation of this issue.This petition has been granted.Preliminary Evaluation PE15-028 has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.The ODI reports cited above can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SarchNHTSAID under the identification (ODI) numbers found in the attached list.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #DP15002 »

  4. LOSS OF HEADLIGHT FUNCTION NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE08066

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: November 26, 2008
    • Date Closed: March 24, 2009
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting:Headlights

    Summary: The Agency has closed this investigation based on its review of complaint reports, field and technical data provided by Ford and complainant interviews. Ford found that some lighting control modules (lcm) in the subject vehicles contained defective solder joints on the printed circuit board.this condition can lead to poor headlight performance ranging from intermittent outage and dimming to eventual headlights failure.the failure does not affect other lighting functions (park, emergency flasher, brake and flash to pass lights).the Agency is aware of a total of 306 consumers complaints and no report of crash, injury or fatality.Ford reports 2,074 warranty claims related to headlight failure linked to the lcm during the first three years of operation.about 12% (247) of these claims are specific to headlight failure while driving.the average warranty rate for headlight failing while driving is low (0.05%).Ford reports a slightly higher warranty rate experienced for the Crown Victoria police interceptor vehicles and this is attributed to the higher duty cycle of these vehicles (headlights on for longer periods).a safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of Agency resources does not appear to be warranted.accordingly, this investigation is closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.the Agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE08066 »

  5. CNG TANK EXPLOSION NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA03001

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly

    Summary: In September 2002, a fuel cylinder in a natural gas powered vehicle (ngv) exploded during a fire.Ford and VRTC test engineers jointly examined the incident vehicle and reviewed testing to determine whether the performance of the pressure relief valve (PRD) was proper.the purpose of a PRD is to protect a compressed natural gas tank from overpressure by allowing the CNG to vent when the temperature reaches a specific point.the PRD was removed from the failed tank and subjected to a yield temperature determination test. It was concluded that a direct flame (from the interior of the vehicle) onto the cylinder (located behind the rear seat in the trunk)compromised the hoop strength of the natural gas cylinder, thus allowing the cylinder to fail prior to the PRD releasing at itsdesigned temperature.as a result of this testing and review of the involved vehicle, Ford has developed an insulator to insulate the natural gas fuel tank from a locally directed flame projecting from the interior of the vehicle.insulators will be installed behind the back seat on subject vehicles to prevent future failures of this type. Ford's action addresses the concerns of ODI.therefore, this investigation is closed.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA03001 »

  6. CNG TANK EXPLODING IN A FIRE NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE02071

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: October 01, 2002
    • Date Closed: January 27, 2003
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Storage:Tank Assembly

    Summary: An explosion of a compressed natural gas (CNG) tank should not be able to occur, as the tank is fitted with a pressure relief device (PRD). This PRD should release the CNG in the tank, prior to the pressure reaching the tank burst pressure.the PRD did not release in the subject Wisconsin police cruiser explosion.NHTSA has recovered the PRD valve from the tank that exploded and testing will be necessary to establish why this tank safety valve did not release in the very high temperature fire that occurred in the police cruiser.there is only the single known event, but due to the catastropic force of such an explosion and the potential for injury and loss of life, this investigation is being upgraded.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE02071 »

  7. REAR AXLE FRACTURE NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE04010

    Component(s): Power Train:Axle Assembly:Axle Shaft

    Summary: This PE was opened after ODI became aware of two allegations concerning rear axle fracture and partial wheel separation involving MY 2003 Ford Crown Victoria police interceptors (cvpi).initially, the PE's scope involved all MY 2003 Grand Marquis, Crown Victoria, and Lincoln town cars (I.e., "panther platform") produced through January 2003.while gathering information about this issue, it became evident that the failures were confined to long-wheelbase Lincoln town cars and the cvpi's due to their unique weight distribution and usage profiles.Ford's recall addresses these vehicles.both the company and ODI are continuing to monitor the field performance of the axles and will take appropriate action as required.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE04010 »

  8. FRACTURE OF THE STEEL WHEEL RIM NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE03009

    Component(s): Wheels

    Summary: The subject wheel (new for MY 2003) is used on Crown Victoria (cv) and Grand Marquis.complaint data indicates that wheel failure affects primarily the commercial specification cv model (police and taxi) which has unique design characteristics and is generally subjected to higher usage demands.during Ford's analysis, it was determined that cyclic bending moment fatigue could cause rim cracks to occur in the heat affected zone adjacent to the circumferential weld.Ford implemented changes in wheel manufacture in September 2002 and introduced a new wheel design with a thicker rim in April 2003.ODI found evidence that indicated rapid crack propogation might have occurred in seven wheel failure incidents, two of which lead to tire debeading.Ford has announced that 29,946 commercial spec cv vehicles, manufactured prior to the September change, will be recalled to have the April 2003 design wheel installed.ODI will continue to monitor for wheel failures in the subject vehicles not covered by the recall.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE03009 »

  9. FRACTURE OF THE STEEL WHEEL RIM NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ04007

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: August 02, 2004
    • Date Closed: December 20, 2004
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Wheels
    Wheels:Cap/Cover/Hub
    Wheels:Center Section
    Wheels:Rim

    Summary: During a September 23, 2004 meeting and in subsequent discussions in November, Ford advised the Office Of Defects Investigation (ODI) of their plans to introduce an improved steel wheel for manufacturing and service component use on the subject vehicles, indicating this would occur in December 2004.the new wheel design incorporates an additional manufacturing process (shot peening) which lowers tensile stress in the surface layer of the rim material adjacent to the circumferential weld. Theoretically this should improve rim durability by reducing fatigue crack initiation sites.indications from Ford's accelerated testing methods show an improvement in the performance of the new wheel.in addition to prior safety recall 03V279 and service action (sa) 03M03, Ford will announce a new extended warranty sa for vehicles built prior to December 2004 that suffer rim fractures in service.the new wheel design will be used as a remedy.Ford advises that a sa is sufficient for addressing future wheel failures (including recall 03V279 remedy wheel failures) because: 1) failure rates are low based on Ford's analysis, and 2) driver warnings (repetitive slow air loss, and or steering wheel vibration) allow early and safe detection of cracked wheels.ODI has received 25 vehicle owner questionnaire (voq) reports (involving 22 vehicles) which allege a rim fracture of one or more steel wheels.about half the reports involve vehicles built with the remedy wheel used for recall 03V279, and most of the remaining vehicles were subject to the recall.the process of identifying pertinent Ford complaints is made difficult by Ford's prior recall and warranty program activities.the manufacturer complaint and warranty counts, which primarily involve failures of recall 03V279 remedy wheels, are based on analysis conducted to date and are considered to be conservative.further investigation is required, thus ODI is upgrading this investigation to an engineering analysis (ea).during the ea, pertinent failure reports and consequences will be identified and reviewed.ODI and Ford will discuss details for conducting an audit analysis of failed wheels replaced under the new sa.additionally, ODI is awaiting Ford's lab analysis of two wheels which were the subject of voq reports, one of which was involved in the noted crash event.a determination will be made as to whether Ford's service action is sufficient for addressing ongoing rim fractures.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #RQ04007 »

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