Road chemicals claim more victims: 1 million Ford trucks

02_f150suprcab_01.jpgIn what some believe is becoming a more common problem as cities and states use ever-more powerful road deicing chemicals for snow and ice removal, concern grows over the impact those chemicals have on vehicles.

The latest example is the announcement Monday that Ford Motor Co.is recalling more than 1 million F-150 and F-250 trucks, and Lincoln Blackwater vehicles because the straps holding the fuel tanks in place can corrode and break off, increasing the risk of fire. The recall affects vehicles in 22 states.

The recall is for 1997-2003 model year F-150s, 2004 model year F-150 Heritage, 1997-1999 model year F-250s with a GVWR of less than 8,500 lbs., and 2002 and 2003 Lincoln Blackwater vehicles. Ford will be contacting owners.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road deicing chemicals can cause “severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps which secure the tank to the vehicle,” and could result in either the fuel lines separating from the tank or the tank itself to fall off the vehicle.

Owners of vehicles affected can also contact the NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit http://www.safercar.gov for more information.

The problem of deicing compounds is a complex one. First, everyone who drives on a road wants that road to be as safe as possible. States have been battling the elements for years, and many modern deicing compounds do quite a good job in preventing snow and ice buildup on the roads. The downside is the long-term effects on vehicles.

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut has asked that state’s Dept. of Transportation to study the effects the chemicals are having on vehicles as well as roads, bridges and the environment.

“It’s really a major concern for the trucking agency,” Michael J. Riley, the group’s president, told the Associated Press this spring. “This new substance that they’re putting down is eroding parts of the trucks. It gets into the brakes and the body and causes significant damage.”

We all want safe roads in the wintertime, but this Ford recall is another example of the price we pay for that safety. This recall illustrates the point that more research really needs to be done into these compounds and their long-term impact on our vehicles.

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