WASHINGTON — Federal safety investigators have upgraded an investigation into an estimated 485,983 2011-'13 Ford Fiesta small cars, along with the 2013 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, after consumer complaints of door latch failure.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received 640 complaints and two reports of injuries, both caused by a "rebounding door striking a consumer after they attempted to close it."
Ford also submitted 1,079 warranty claims related to door latch failures, NHTSA said. Sixty-five consumers claimed that the doors opened inadvertently while the vehicle was in motion.
The 2013 Fusion and MKZ use the same door latch as the 2011-'13 Fiesta. Federal safety regulators have received 11 related reports on these vehicles, with four allegations of inadvertent door opening.
"We are cooperating with NHTSA on this investigation," wrote Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, in response to a query on Tuesday from Edmunds.
NHTSA has opened an "engineering analysis" into the door latch failure. Such a step sometimes precedes a vehicle recall.
"Ford stated that it does not believe that a latched door experiencing this condition will inadvertently unlatch and that there are many overt warnings associated with a door that does not latch," said NHTSA in its summary of the probe. "(NHTSA) noted that the rate of occurrence for this failure is comparable to other door latch failure investigations and questions the effectiveness of warning signals, given the number of complainants alleging that the doors opened while the vehicle was in motion."
The engineering analysis will "further assess the scope, frequency and consequence of this failure," NHTSA said.
Edmunds says: These Ford vehicles have not been recalled at this point. Owners will have to wait for federal safety regulators to finish their work before taking any action. But if you have an immediate concern, it's best to contact your dealer.