— Isuzu fuel tanks that allegedly detach due to corrosion and rust won't be investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the agency denied a consumer petition to open an investigation.
NHTSA received the petition in April 2018 requesting the agency investigate rust-related fuel tank detachments in Isuzu Rodeo SUVs. The petitioner says his 2004 Isuzu Rodeo suffered from a partial fuel tank detachment in 2017 because of corrosion.
The SUVs named in the petition include the 2001-2004 Isuzu Rodeo, Isuzu Axiom and Honda Passport, but NHTSA sent letters to Isuzu about possible fuel tank detachments in 2001-2004 Isuzu Rodeos and 2002-2004 Isuzu Axioms. Honda was also notified about 2001-2002 Honda Passports because Isuzu built those vehicles for Honda.
According to NHTSA, Isuzu made a change to the tank shield corrosion protection system in 2002. Isuzu and Honda sold 172,000 vehicles in the U.S., with 58% of the vehicles built before the shield change and 42% manufactured after the change.
Investigators found 19 incidents of partial fuel tank detachments which all occurred in states with high road salt usage, and all the vehicles were in service more than 10 years. Severe corrosion in multiple undercarriage components was found in 13 of the 19 vehicles but none of the incidents resulted in fuel leaks or fire.
NHTSA also reviewed 24 complaints alleging corrosion of the fuel tank retention systems that did not result in fuel tank detachments. However, 23 of these complaints involve vehicles built prior to the fuel tank shield change. Those vehicles are also from areas where road salt is used in winter.
In addition, safety regulators determined half of the vehicles showed prior accident damage in their service histories.
The government says it is denying the petition to investigate the Isuzu and Honda vehicles because there is no evidence of a defect trend concerning fuel tank rust and tank detachments. NHTSA also says fuel tank damage progresses over many years, providing drivers with plenty of time to detect potential problems and repair them.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of any crashes, fires, injuries or fuel leaks associated with detached fuel tanks in vehicles that range from 16 to 19 years old.