The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation of the 2014 Ford Edge. According to an agency bulletin, there may be a problem with the Edge's wheels, which could result in serious, sudden trouble for drivers.
Normally, NHTSA launches probes of vehicles after numerous drivers have reported similar problems -- headlamps shorting out, fuel pumps leaking, ignitions suddenly switching off. In this case, however, NHTSA's investigation is based on one complaint from a single owner.
That would suggest that the potential problem is pretty serious -- and it is. Here's NHTSA's summary of the complaint, in full:
"On November 29, 2014, [NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation] received a complaint (ODI No. 10661278) reporting the sudden failure of an original equipment 22-inch alloy wheel rim that failed on a model year 2014 Ford Edge. The right-front corner of the vehicle suddenly dropped while driving, causing the vehicle to drive off the road and into a field. The right-front wheel rim was found to have broken into two pieces. The owner said that there was no prior warning or wheel related problems with the vehicle. The vehicle had been driven approximately 8,500 miles at the time of the incident."
In other words, the rim of the vehicle's right front wheel suddenly shattered, leaving the Edge with only three wheels. That would be unusual for any car, but for a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, it's definitely cause for alarm.
For the investigation to have reached this stage -- technically called the Preliminary Evaluation stage -- NHTSA staff had to have evaluated the owner's complaint thoroughly and likely examined the vehicle and its parts in detail. Now, the agency will work with Ford to search for an underlying problem and to determine if any other owner complaints could be related to it.
Depending on how that goes, the probe could move to the second phase, the Engineering Analysis, during which NHTSA will attempt to recreate the problem in a lab setting. The results of those tests will determine whether or not NHTSA asks Ford to conduct a full or partial recall of the 2014 Edge.