Ford is cooperating with the NHTSA investigation, spokesman Daniel Pierce said Monday.
"It's asking for information like they have done in the past with other vehicles, and we will be working with them throughout the investigation," Pierce said. Ford received a request for information from NHTSA on Monday and it is just starting to look into how many complaints have been made to company dealers, said Pierce.
In its investigation NHTSA will determine how many cars had the same parts and whether the problem is widespread enough to trigger a recall. So far none of the cars has been recalled. The Taurus and Sable are nearly identical and share almost all the same parts.
The Taurus, which was introduced in late 1985, was the best-selling car in the U.S. for five years in the early 1990s. Ford let it languish while it focused on SUVs, and the Toyota Camry was soon outselling it. Ford renamed the Taurus the Five Hundred in 2006, but new CEO Alan Mulally insisted that the company return to the Taurus name with the 2008 model year.
Taurus sales have remained sluggish. Ford sold 63,526 of them last year, just 15 percent of the total sold at the car's peak in 1992. The company discontinued the Mercury brand in 2010.
Ford has recalled the Taurus before for problems with its cruise control system. In 2008, the company recalled 1993-1995 models of the Taurus SHO, a performance edition, because faulty cruise control switches were linked to engine fires.
Intellpuke: You can read this Associated Press article in context here: bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/12/10657814-ford-probe-widens-could-cover-19-million-cars