Is This A Victoria Secret?

Washington February 27, 2003; Dan Hart writing for Bloomberg reported that a Ford Motor Co. Crown Victoria car used by police that already is the subject of lawsuits is being investigated by federal regulators for wheel defects that reportedly can cause drivers to lose control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started the probe amid complaints that parts of the wheel on the 2003 models were prone to cracks that could lead to tire deflation and "catastrophic failure." There have been no accidents or injuries related to the problem, NHTSA said on its Web site.

Ford, the world's second-largest automaker, has sold about 50,000 of the 2003 Crown Victorias to the police, company spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said. Ford has said the cars meet safety standards and don't need to be recalled.

"We're aware of this issue," Kinley said. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company is working with an unnamed supplier to fix the cracks, she said.

Ford has sold 42,000 Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis cars to retail customers. The Grand Marquis is an identical car marketed under Ford's Mercury brand; both are built at Ford's plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. The problem with wheel cracks has been reported only by those driving the police car, Kinley said.

The car has been alleged to have other problems. The National Association of Police Organizations Inc., a non-profit group representing more than 200,000 officers, sued Ford, saying the police version of the car has a tendency to burst into flames when hit from behind and citing eight incidents since 1998, including the Dec. 19 death of a policeman in New York.

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