The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of Ford Fiesta vehicles from the 2011-2013 model years. According to consumer complaints, some of those vehicles may have been built with faulty door latches, which could allow the doors to open while the vehicle is in traffic.
NHTSA says that it has received 61 complaints about the Fiesta's doors. Most claim that one more doors failed to latch properly, triggering the "door ajar" light on the dashboard. However, 12 of the complaints allege that a door or doors opened while the Fiesta was in motion.
To date, NHTSA has received one report of an injury linked to the problem. That injury appears to have occurred outside the vehicle when someone was "struck by a door that rebounded after attempting to close it". No fatalities have been reported.
The probe is now in the Preliminary Evaluation phase, the first of NHTSA's three-step investigation process. The Preliminary Evaluation phase involves NHTSA staff reviewing consumer complaints to determine if there's a pattern of failures (something that, sadly, NHTSA hasn't always been good at spotting).
If the investigation moves on to stage two, the Engineering Analysis, NHTSA will conduct a deeper analysis of the vehicle itself and attempt to recreate the problem in tests. Depending on how those tests go, the agency may call for a formal recall of the Fiesta.
We'll keep you posted.