We are currently investigating a potential fire hazard in the 2005 Lincoln Town Cars (Signature Series), manufactured by Ford Motor Company. If the automatic transmission fluid overheats in these and similarly designed vehicles, the transmission fluid can force its dipstick out of the fill tube far enough to allow the transmission fluid to escape onto the engine where it can catch on fire.
Our preliminary investigation indicates that transmission fluid dipsticks can be designed with a simple locking mechanism on the dipstick on the filler tube which seals the dipstick in the filler tube when the dipstick is under pressure from overheated transmission fluid. This prevents the overheated transmission fluid from escaping out of the dipstick tube and landing on the engine where it can start a fire. Transmission fluid dipsticks and filler tubes designed with these locking devices are used in other vehicles.
Our client, an 81 year old disabled veteran, died on October 2, 2006 in his 2005 Lincoln Town Car (Signature Series) (Vehicle Identification No. 1LNHM81W05Y621977), when he was unable to escape from an engine fire. The fire, which apparently resulted from the ignition of automatic transmission fluid that had overflowed onto the engine, could probably have been prevented if the dipstick had been designed with a locking device.