Back in September, we told you about an investigation of the 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta being conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That investigation uncovered enough evidence of underlying problems with the Fiesta to move to its next phase -- and it's grown to include the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, too.
When the probe first began, 61 Fiesta owners had complained to NHTSA about the Fiesta's doors. Of those 49 simply said that the doors wouldn't properly latch, causing the "door ajar" warning light to illuminate on the car's dashboard. However, 12 owners said that they experienced a car door opening while the Fiesta was in motion.
The number of complaints has quadrupled over the past several months. NHTSA has now logged some 218 complaints about the Fiesta's doors, 65 of which insist that one or more of the doors opened while the vehicle was moving. What's more, two owners have complained of injuries resulting from the problem: in both cases, an open door rebounded and struck a passenger in the vehicle.
Unfortunately, it gets a bit worse. Ford itself has received 451 additional reports of latch problems, not including any that might overlap with those submitted to NHTSA. While none of those reports involves injuries, at least one says that property damage resulted from an inadvertently opened door hitting another car. Also, Ford has filed 1,079 warranty claims due to door latch problems on the Fiesta.
And there's more: Ford has told NHTSA that the same door latch on the 2011-2013 Fiesta was used on the 2013 Ford Fusion and 2013 Lincoln MKZ, so those models have been wrapped into NHTSA's investigation.
The probe now moves to its second phase, the Engineering Analysis, in which NHTSA staff will attempt to recreate the door latch problem under lab conditions. If that work reveals a persistent flaw in the latches, NHTSA may request a recall from Ford. Should that happen, it would affect some 485,983 vehicles registered in the U.S.