The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it is investigating a potential design issue in 400,000 2012 and 2013 Ford Focus vehicles that prevents the doors of the compact car from closing properly.

The federal agency said it has received complaints from 73 Ford Focus owners who experienced troubles keeping their car's doors securely latched.

Some owners said they have resorted to tying the doors shut just to be able to use their cars, while others said they have been forced to stop using their cars altogether out of safety concerns.

One of the complainants claimed that he or she sustained an injury after the car door suddenly reopened after having closed it before.

The NHTSA said its probe regarding the matter will be similar to the one that led to the recall of more than 456,000 Ford Fusion and Fiesta and Lincoln MKZ vehicles in 2015.

John Cangany, spokesperson for Ford Motor Company, said the carmaker is already working with NHTSA officials in order to find out whether the differences in the latches used in Focus models and those used in previously recalled vehicles affect their performance.

According to a report, the latches used for Ford Focus doors are manufactured by a different vendor than the latches fitted on Ford and Lincoln vehicles that were recalled. Their designs, however, are believed to be similar.

After the NHTSA finishes up its probe, it will likely urge Ford to issue a recall of affected Ford Focus vehicles.

In 2015, a Ford Focus owner from San Antonio told the NHTSA that the door on the driver's side of his or her car suddenly flew open because its latch had failed.

"This is an extreme safety hazard, and it is just a matter of time until someone falls out of a moving vehicle and is killed or injured," the person said.

The car owner had also contacted Ford regarding the latch issue and was informed that the company was already aware of several failures in their vehicles. However, Ford said they did not have any plans to issue a recall.

The NHTSA does not reveal information on people who send complaints to the agency.

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