In a string of stories that appear eerily similar to those about the Ford Pinto in the 1970’s, the worries about the Ford Crown Victoria seem to have been proven correct. Synonymous with law enforcement, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has served as the most popular police car for the last fifteen years. The Crown Vic has been no stranger to controversy though, and the continued explosion of squad cars has confirmed the fears that faulty fuel tanks present a deadly risk for drivers.
In the late 1990’s, worries mounted as stories emerged of Crown Victoria’s exploding, especially after rear-end collisions. In these cases, when the vehicle is struck from the back, the fuel tank can possibly rupture and combine with a spark from the collision to erupt in a fiery blaze. The fuel tank is located behind the rear axle and in an area of the car that is most likely to be crushed in a rear-end collision. According to the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration, between 1999 and 2008 there have been at least 35 fire-related deaths in Crown Victorias.
In 2005, Ford acknowledged the possibility of fuel tank failure and offered optional fire suppression devices in their vehicles. In the event of a high-speed rear impact, crash sensors and electronic processors deploy nozzles that spray a chemical retardant on the ground and car to suppress fire in the places it would usually spread. New vehicles equipped with these devices are estimated to cost around $2,000 more per car, and thus many police departments have been unable to install them for financial reasons. Furthermore, there have been multiple instances where squad cars with the safety system installed have still burst into flames when rear-ended.
There have been a number of lawsuits against Ford for the fuel-tank problems of the Lincoln Towncar, the Mercury Grand Marquis, and the Ford Crown Victoria. These lawsuits have alleged that Ford ignored warnings from its own engineers and opted against relocating the gas tank more than fifteen years ago. Ford maintains that the Crown Victoria is a safe car and that the reported explosions have been a product of the crash magnitude, not the design of the vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of injury caused by a defective product, contact our dedicated product liability lawyers to see if you have a possible case against the manufacturer of that product. Additionally, if you have been in a car accident caused by the negligence or actions of another, contact our experienced auto accident lawyers to see if you are entitled to compensation for your suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.