Ford sued over ‘inferior design’ of lug nuts

Hundreds of Ford owners are suing the automaker over allegedly defective lug nuts.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims the lug nuts on millions of Ford Fusion, Escape, Flex, Focus, F-150 and F-350 vehicles can swell and delaminate, making it difficult to remove the wheels without paying for repairs and new lug nuts.

Law firm Hagens Berman filed the complaint Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of the affected owners.

"We're not talking about breakthrough technology or computerized aspects of the auto world," Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said in a statement. "We're talking about possibly the simplest part of the car — the lug nuts. Ford chose to make its lug nuts with an inferior design that puts cosmetics ahead of safety and directly led to harm to consumers."

The two-part lug nuts have a steel core with a chrome, aluminum or stainless steel cap.

"At best this defect leads to consumers paying more than $30 per wheel at a repair shop just to get their tire off, and then have to buy new lug nuts," Berman said. "At worst, Ford owners could quickly end up in an emergency situation on a busy roadway, stranded with a flat tire and no way to change it."

So far, Ford owners from Arizona, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia have signed on to the suit. The amount of money they are seeking varies individually depending on the out-of-pocket loss and value of the vehicle, the law firm said.

Ford, in a statement, said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

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