Editor's note: This article has been updated with new information, see below.
In direct response to a defect petition submitted by the North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC) in October 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated a new defect investigation affecting an estimated 517,945 model year 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles.
In a defect petition letter sent to NHTSA on October 2, 2014, NCCC cited a consumer complaint that it received involving a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis that was diagnosed as having a failed lighting control module by a Ford dealership. The vehicle owner, however, had been unable to have the vehicle repaired due to lack of available parts. The complainant had been without functioning headlights for more than four months at the time the complaint was filed.
The vehicles in question were previously investigated by NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) for the exact same issue. That investigation was opened on November 26, 2008 and closed on March 24, 2009 with no recall mandate issued.
At the time of submitting the petition, NCCC discovered that all the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis vehicles in question were already subject to a Customer Satisfaction Program issued by Ford following NHTSA's first investigation into the alleged defect that extended the warranty for the lighting control module to be covered for 15 years or 250,000 miles.
At the time of NCCC's petition, there had been more than 600 consumer complaints filed with NHTSA specifically pertaining to this issue. Seven of those reports cite vehicle crashes linked to sudden headlight failure.
Despite being covered by the extended warranty, vehicle owners have been unable to have their vehicle's repaired due to lack of available parts required to make the necessary repairs.
The petition states that neither Ford dealership personnel nor Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center representatives have been able to assist concerned vehicle owners or advise them as to when replacement parts will be available.
ODI will now evaluate the issue and make a grant or deny decision as to whether or not the matter warrants further investigation.
In a letter to NCCC dated August 11, 2015, Acting Director of NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) Otto Matheke stated that "NHTSA has conducted a review of the petition and other pertinent information and has decided to grant the petition."
A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened by ODI to investigate the scope, frequency and potential consequences of the alleged defect.
According to ODI's opening resume for the investigation, an estimated 517,945 model year 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles could be impacted.
The opening resume also references a total of 3,609 consumer complaints submitted to both NHTSA and Ford regarding this issue, including 15 alleged vehicle crashes due to loss of headlights and other exterior lighting.