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Government closes investigation into OE tire valves

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On May 15, 2008, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), through its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), began looking into allegations of cracked and leaking snap-in tire valves in model year 2007 Ford vehicles. That investigation has been closed.

The valves were supplied to Ford Motor Co. by Topseal Shanghai Auto-Parts Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong Industries Co. Ltd. They also were the subject of two aftermarket safety recalls by Tech International and Dill Air Control Products LLC. (Dill also is a subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong.)

According to the ODI, "the defect conditions addressed by the aftermarket tire valve recalls both involved inadequate resistance to ozone cracking due to issues with the supply of anti-ozonant chemicals to Topseal for a period from July to mid-November 2006."

Ford claimed that its Topseal valves were made at a different Topseal production facility. Although the ODI's analysis revealed that "problems with cracked tire valves were significantly higher for (Ford's) model year 2007 vehicles produced from December 2006 through March 2007," the rate of leaking valves was still under 1%.

In addition to implementing changes in its material specifications for snap-in rubber tire valves, Ford also increased "the quality and acceptance standards for valves imported for use in its vehicles," wrote the ODI.

Ford also agreed to send letters addressing the cracking concerns to owners of the model year Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles potentially affected. Ford says it will offer to inspect and, if necessary, replace the valves as specified under the terms of the warranty.

The ODI subsequently closed the investigation (PE08-036), adding that the closing "does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The agency will continue to monitor complaints and other information relating to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles, and take further action in the future if warranted."

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