DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators said they would review a petition from a North Carolina consumer group that sought further investigation into a potential loss of vehicle headlights or all exterior lighting in almost 518,000 Ford Motor Co large sedans in the United States.
The North Carolina Consumers Council asked officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a probe into 517,945 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis sedans from model years 2003 through 2005, according to recent documents filed with NHTSA.
The safety agency had previously opened a preliminary investigation into the issue in November 2008, and after four months, closed the probe with a finding of no defect.
Ford officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
The North Carolina group alleged a defect in the lighting control module that powers the headlights, and noted the No. 2 U.S. automaker had recently extended the subject vehicle warranty for this part to 15 years or 250,000 miles in requesting the probe, the documents said.
The consumer group cited 604 consumer complaints about the issue on NHTSA's website, including seven reports of vehicle crashes, according to the NHTSA documents.
A preliminary investigation is the first step in a process that can lead to a recall if regulators determine that a manufacturer needs to address a safety issue.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)