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Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is opening an investigation into 250,000 Ford F-150 pickups for braking problems linked to two crashes.

The investigation covers the 2011-12 F-150 with a 3.5 liter gasoline turbo direct-injection engine and comes as 32 complaints alleging electric vacuum assist pump failures resulting in loss of brake power assist and increased brake pedal effort.

NHTSA said “none of the complaints reported any warning indicators to alert the driver of brake power assist loss or the potential of increased stopping distance. Two reports alleged crashes due to increased brake pedal effort required to stop or slow the vehicle.”

The agency said the complaints suggest “an apparent increasing trend, with approximately 60 percent of complaints received within the past nine months.”

Many owners told NHTSA they thought the issue was dangerous and expensive to fix. and some reported back orders at dealers for parts — with one waiting for six weeks.

“This situation is very dangerous,” one owner told NHTSA, saying the 2013 model was updated.

The owner of a 2011 F-150 wrote Ford last year after buying a 2012 F-150 and said he almost crashed.

“I am an Iraq war vet who could have (been) killed along with my 3-year-old son because of this defect,” he said.

Another owner said he could no longer park in his garage because he “may hit house, or garage or kids when backing out.”

Ford replaced the pump to supply power brakes with a belt-driven vacuum pump from the 2013 F-150, owners said.

Ford said it was cooperating with the NHTSA investigations.

DShepardson@detroitnews.com

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