DETROIT -- U.S. safety regulators have stepped up a probe into faulty door latches on 261,000 of Ford Motor Co.'s problem-plagued Focus cars from the 2000 model year, the government said Tuesday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said a preliminary evaluation of the problem had been escalated to the status of an "engineering analysis," a move that often precedes a safety recall.
Focus vehicles from the 2000 model year already have been recalled 13 times, an embarrassingly high total for a car from the second-largest U.S. automaker. By contrast, there have been no recalls involving Ford's 2002 model Focus.
NHTSA said it had received 17 complaints alleging that one or both rear door latches were difficult to close and the doors came open while the vehicles were moving.
Separately, NHTSA said it had also opened an engineering analysis into about 110,000 of Toyota Motor Corp.'s Tundra pickups from the 2002 model year.
NHTSA said consumers had complained of a faulty ball joint in the front suspension of the trucks that resulted in a loss of vehicle control or front braking ability.
One crash has been linked to the failure of the ball joint, NHTSA said.