Mel Hewitt, 43, district manager for a chain of California computer stores, says he has been a Ford man all his life.
But his loyalty has been tested ever since a spark plug blew out of his 2000 Excursion's V-10 engine during a trip through Utah last November.
He asked Ford Motor Co. to reimburse him for a $3,000 engine repair and other expenses. The company refused.
Now Hewitt is part of a class-action lawsuit in California and one of the people petitioning the federal government to declare millions of Ford vehicles defective because defective cylinder heads can cause spark plugs to be ejected violently.
"I'm not an evil ogre out to get rich on a lawsuit," Hewitt said in a telephone interview. "All I want to do is have them take care of what they should have taken care of in the first place."
The petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, made public last week, alleges flaws in as many as 17 million Ford products built for the 1997-2004 model years. It says faulty cylinder heads on some
V-8s and the V-10 engine cause the plug eruptions.
Models include E-series vans, F-series pickups, SUVs, Crown Victorias and Mustangs.