NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 Ford Expedition

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 2004 Ford Expedition, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:


    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP05005

    • Status:
    • 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 Preliminary Evaluation #PE08070

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: December 09, 2008
    • Date Closed: April 15, 2009
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Wheels

    Summary: Ford "special service vehicle" (ssv) Expedition use a steel full face wheel design similar to that investigated in PE03009, RQ04007, EA04034 (Crown Victoria police interceptor) and PE03026 (GM pickups and SUVS).a total of 8,251 ssvs (2.2% of total production) were produced within model years 2004-2006 and sold primarily for use by state, federal, and municipal law enforcement (le) agencies.Ford stipulates that the subject vehicles are not suitable for high speed or pursuit operations and also identified a 2004 national institute for justice vehicle evaluation report which also acknowledges this limitation. The full face wheel is fabricated from two pieces: A stamped outer wheel disc and a formed rim.the two pieces, which together comprise the outer bead seat, are joined together with a circumferential weld.a cyclic bending moment occurs in the outer bead seat area as the wheel rotates, resulting in fatigue stresses in the weld's heat affected zone that can lead to fracturing (cracking) of the rim material.because the failure occurs under the outboard tire bead, air leakage may not readily occur when the rim cracks, dependent on how well the bead seals on the rim.if multiple cracks grow undetected and suddenly join into a single large crack, the wheel's structure can become compromised leading to rapid air loss.a rapid air loss, especially at higher speed, may lead to a crash. Ford responded to ODI's January 5, 2009 information request (ir) on February 24.Ford's response acknowledges a number of wheel fractures on the ssvs.however, based on its assessment of the pertinent factors, it concludes that the condition does not represent an unreasonable risk to safety.the lack of reports of rapid air loss, no alleged crashes, and their assessment that a cracked wheel can be detected through slow, repeated air loss or vibration, were the bases for Ford's conclusion.Ford discusses the results of a study it performed on wheels returned from le field use, design revisions it made to the subject wheel, and the outcome of durability testing it conducted on the old and new wheel designs. The counts shown above include a duplicate ODI and Ford report; the Ford counts are unique vehicles alleging wheel fracture(s).some warranty claims involved more than one wheel replacement.although the subject vehicles have been in service for a longer period of time than vehicles investigated in the previous investigations of two-piece wheel fracture, ODI did not identify any allegations of crashes, rapid air loss events due to wheel fractures or allegations of effects on vehicle control or stability, as were the cases in past investigations where safety recalls were conducted to replace affected wheels.the Agency agrees that the ssv is not suitable for pursuit or high speed usage, reducing the potential for crashes or loss of control incidents to be caused by the alleged defect. Ford implemented a 'shot peening' process in June 2006 which reduced the wheel's surface stress and significantly improved its durability, and ODI is unaware of any failures of shot peened wheels (service part number 7L1Z-1015-B).Ford's testing showed a slightly reduced durability for the non-shot peened wheels when 'lt' instead of Ford approved 'P' metric type tires are used. 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 take further action if warranted by further circumstances.

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