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Ford recalls 1.2 million pickups for corrosion problem

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Monday it is recalling about 1.2 million pickup trucks in the United States and Canada to replace straps that hold fuel tanks in place and could corrode and break.

The recall affects Ford F-150 full-size pickups from model years 1997 through 2004, F-250 pickups of less than 8,500 pounds from model years 1997 through 1999 and Lincoln Blackwood trucks from model years 2002 and 2003, a Ford spokesman said.

Of the trucks being recalled, 1.1 million are in the United States and the rest are in Canada.

The trucks were sold or are registered in 21 eastern and Midwestern U.S. states, Washington D.C., and Canadian provinces, where the possibility of corrosion of the straps that hold the fuel tanks may occur because of prolonged exposure to road de-icing chemicals, Ford said.

As a result of the corrosion, one or both straps may fail, causing fuel lines to separate from the tank or in some cases causing the tank to fall to the ground, Ford said. Either scenario could result in a fuel leak or fire.

Ford said there were reports of three vehicle fires and one injury related to the issue.

Owners should take the vehicles to a dealer to have the straps replaced with ones that offer more corrosion protection, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Dealers may install a cable support under the strap as an interim repair or a steel reinforcement over the existing straps as a permanent repair, the NHTSA website said.

Ford said a permanent repair to fix the problem will be in place by mid-September.

NHTSA investigated 2.7 million pickups, but Ford said the smaller number was because it is recalling the trucks in states and provinces where corrosion could be a problem.

The probe opened last September when an estimated 1.4 million F-150 pickup trucks were suspected of having the problem.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman. Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Robert MacMillan)

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