March 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM ET
Ford has been sued for allegedly selling trucks over a 10-year period that had defective fuel tank linings, and for hiding the problem from consumers even as it warned dealers.
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 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.
A Ford spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had no immediate comment.
The lawsuit was filed by Chester, New Jersey-based Coba Landscaping and Construction Inc and its principal Galo Coba.
It alleges fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment, among other charges, and seeks compensatory, punitive and triple damages.
The F-series pickup is the best-selling U.S. car or truck. Ford is based in Dearborn, Michigan. The E-Series is a truck-based full-size van.
Reuters contributed to this report.