A lawsuit alleges that Ford tried to hide a fuel tank defect from its consumers.

Ford Motor Company has been hit with a lawsuit filed yesterday in a New Jersey federal court that alleges the automaker told dealers about a fuel tank defect but swept the issue under the table to keep consumers uninformed.

The lawsuit, which was obtained by Reuters, states that fuel tank lines on various F-Series trucks and E-Series full-size vans built between 1999 and 2008 had defective fuel tank linings that could "separate and flake off." As a result, the fuel systems could clog with lining debris and rust, which the liner was designed to protect against.

In 2007, the lawsuit says, Ford sent to its dealers a "secret" technical service bulletin to let them know of the problem. Unlike many technical service bulletins, however, Ford did not recall affected trucks or offer free repairs. Ford is said to have kept the issue away from consumers with the internal technical service bulletin.

The lawsuit was filed by Coba Landscaping and Construction of Chester, New Jersey, which presumably has a fleet of Ford trucks and/or vans.

Ford has not officially commented on the matter because a spokesperson said the automaker has not been served with the lawsuit.

If the lawsuit turns into a recall, millions of Ford trucks and vans could be recalled.