March 15, 2012 / 3:15 PM / 6 years ago

Ford sued, said to hide truck fuel tank defect

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has been sued for allegedly selling trucks with defective fuel tank linings over a 10-year period, and hiding the problem from consumers even as it warned dealers.

Ford heavy duty trucks and F series trucks are parked at a lot at the Louisville Ford Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky, September 15, 2006 REUTERS/John Sommers II

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in a New Jersey federal court said fuel tank linings on 10 E- and F-series truck models made between 1999 and 2008 would “separate and flake off.”

It said this would clog fuel systems with debris and rust, causing a sudden loss of engine power, and potentially causing vehicles to buck or kick or suddenly stall.

Ford in 2007 issued a “secret” technical service bulletin to dealers advising them of the problem, but neither recalled the affected trucks nor offered to repair them for free, the complaint said.

“Hundreds, if not thousands,” of drivers have experienced the defect, it added.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans Zwiebel declined to comment immediately, saying the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has yet to be served with the complaint.

The F-series pickup is the best-selling U.S. car or truck, while the E-Series is a truck-based full-size van.

The complaint seeks class-action status on behalf of the vehicle owners, and alleges fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment, among other charges. It seeks compensatory, punitive and triple damages, and other remedies.

The plaintiffs are Chester, New Jersey-based Coba Landscaping and Construction Inc and its principal Galo Coba. Lawyers for both were not immediately available for comment.

The case is Coba et al v. Ford Motor Co, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

Reporting By Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Richard Chang

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