A proposed class action lawsuit alleges the aluminum alloy wheels with which 2017 and 2018 Ford F-350 trucks come equipped suffer from a manufacturing defect that causes corrosion and ultimately a premature loss of tire air pressure.
The 35-page complaint out of Delaware is centered on the allegedly defective design and manufacture of the valve stems found in Ford’s aluminum alloy wheels. According to the case, every valve stem is affixed to a federally mandated tire pressure monitoring sensor (TPMS) that alerts a driver to tire under-inflation. The wheels on every 2017 and 2018 Ford F-350 vehicle contain a TPMS sensor through which air can be added to a tire, the lawsuit continues.
At issue is that the tire valve stems used by Ford for its aluminum alloy wheels are made of a steel alloy, the lawsuit states. Over time, the case says, the point of contact between the steel valve stem, which is connected to a TPMS sensor, and the aluminum alloy wheel itself can suffer from galvanic corrosion, an electrochemical process through which one type of metal corrodes in preference to another metal. This corrosion, which essentially deteriorates the aluminum around a valve stem, can ultimately cause “continuous” tire air leaks that can affect everything from a vehicle’s fuel economy and handling to the safety of its passengers, the case claims, among other—potentially more serious—hazards.
“An instantaneous tire deflation or blowout can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles,” the complaint stresses. “Low tire pressure is particularly harmful when using the Class Vehicles to haul or tow heavy loads, which the Class Vehicles are advertised as being capable of doing.”
The plaintiffs, owners of 2018 model year F-350 trucks, claim that they were often forced to refill their tires daily as a result of the alleged defect. Both consumers allege that after complaining to a Ford dealership on numerous occasions, the root cause of the apparent defect was not remedied nor covered by the vehicles’ warranties. According to the case, each plaintiff’s aluminum alloy wheels “are still discolored and corroded” due to the “original and replacement defective steel valve stems.”
Ford, the suit alleges, has engaged in “deceptive and unfair trade practices” by “warranting, advertising, and selling” its 2017 and 2018 F-350 trucks with faulty tire valve stems and aluminum alloy wheels.
The case looks to certify classes of consumers nationwide and in New York and Pennsylvania who bought or leased a 2017 or 2018 Ford F-350 equipped with aluminum alloy wheels.