Ford#;s Focus appears to have set a record in the US – with six National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations begun into the model this year alone, according to Associated Press (AP).

AP said NHTSA officials have opened two new investigations into the Ford subcompact after complaints the engine can suddenly stall and the front suspension can collapse.

NHTSA spokesman Tim Hurd told AP he could not recall the government’s ever having as many investigations into one vehicle at the same time.

According to AP, 72 people complained to the NHTSA that the Focus stalled while they were driving, including seven who crashed. Seven people reported the front suspension control arm fractured while they were driving, leading to six crashes, AP added.

AP said that the investigation into engine stall involves 574,700 cars from the 2000 and 2001 model years, the first two years of production while the suspension investigation also includes the 2002 model year.

The Focus, the country’s fifth-best-selling car, has been plagued with safety problems, AP said, and has already been recalled eight times for problems ranging from faulty seat latches and windscreen wipers to a throttle that can stick open.

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AP said that two of NHTSA’s other still-open investigations involve possible air bag malfunctions, while the others were prompted by reports the rear wheel bearings could fail and the engine could catch fire.

NHTSA investigators told AP that the alleged engine stall problem may be caused by debris accumulated in the petrol tank, blocking fuel from being delivered to the engine.

European-built versions of the Focus – where, unlike the US, the hatchback models are most common – have also had their share of recalls and problems, according to the UK consumer website The website lists a number of known faults, recalls and technical service bulletins issued to dealers for issues including faulty electronic control modules, incorrect suspension bolt torque, front suspension, door latch, tail light and automatic transmission problems.

Meanwhile, AP added, NHTSA is stepping up its investigation into nearly half a million General Motors vehicles after a possible steering problem was blamed for 28 crashes.

Over 1,200 people have complained that the steering rack and pinion suddenly locked up while they were driving, AP said.

Under scrutiny are the 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue and 1997 versions of the Pontiac Grand Prix and TranSport, Chevrolet Venture and Malibu, and the Oldsmobile Silhouette and Cutlass.

AP said that the problem can cause the driver to lose steering control with GM reporting six crashes in which eight people were hurt, but no injuries or deaths in the other 22 crashes.