DETROIT Ford Motor Co is recalling nearly 363,000 F-150 pickup trucks in North America because of a potential problem with the interior door handles not working properly, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported on Thursday.
Ford has now recalled more vehicles in the first few weeks of this year -- nearly 900,000 -- than in all of 2010 when about 600,000 were recalled.
The company said in January it was recalling about 525,000 older Windstar minivans.
Model years 2009 and 2010 F-150 trucks produced from January 2008 to November 2009 are being recalled because in the event of a crash, "the door handle spring can fail, causing the door latch to open," NHTSA said in a filing.
As of January 21, there had been no reported accidents or injuries related to this issue, Ford told NHTSA.
The F-150 is the primary model of the F-series of pickup trucks -- for 34 straight years the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. market.
The issue will not impact current production of the 2011 model F-150, said a Ford spokesman. The supplier of a plastic reinforcement plug changed the way it was making the plugs in November 2009, the spokesman said.
Some 280,946 trucks will be recalled in the United States; about 68,000 in Canada; and about 14,000 in Mexico, Ford and NHTSA said.
Ford said it would start to notify customers in mid-February, when owners with loose door handles will be asked to bring their trucks into Ford or Lincoln dealerships for replacement of interior door handles, which are currently available at dealer service centers.
"As soon as sufficient plastic reinforcement plugs are available by early spring, customers will be renotified and asked to bring their vehicles to the dealer for free replacement or repair of all interior door handles, whether they are currently experiencing the condition or not," said Ford spokesman Wesley Sherwood.
Sherwood said Ford expects that most of the F-150s will not exhibit any problems with the interior door handles.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Maureen Bavdek and Tim Dobbyn)