April 14, 2011
Ford Motor Company is recalling 1,325,000 Ford F-150 pickup trucks and Lincoln Mark LT vehicles because an electrical short can cause the driver side airbag to deploy unexpectedly.
According to a release by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the airbag could inadvertently deploy while the vehicle is in motion, increasing risk of injury or loss of control of the vehicle.
Vehicles affected by this recall include 2004-2006 Ford F-150 pickup trucks and 2006 Lincoln Mark LT passenger vehicles.
After an investigation into reports of illumination of the air bag warning lamp and inadvertent airbag deployment with these vehicles, the NHTSA sent a letter to Ford in January 2011 requesting Ford recall 1.3 million F-150 vehicles. On February 21, 2011, Ford issued a recall of just 135,000 model year 2004 Ford F-150 pickup trucks. After continued pressure from the NHTSA, Ford expanded the recall today to include 1,190,000 more vehicles from model years 2005 and 2006 that have the same wiring.
"To reassure customers of Ford’s commitment to safety, and to eliminate any possible customer confusion, Ford is voluntarily recalling this remaining population of vehicles," Ford wrote in a letter to the NHTSA.
The Associated Press reports that the F-150 pickup is the top-selling vehicle in America.
Ford expects to notify vehicle owners by letter in May.
“On your vehicle, it may be possible for the clockspring to driver side frontal air bag wire harness to chafe on the horn mounting plate,” said a letter from Ford Motor Company to owners of vehicles affected by the recall. “Chafing of this wiring harness may cause the driver side frontal air bag to inadvertently deploy which presents a risk of injury from the deployment of the air bag and/or a loss of vehicle control. This chafing may also cause the air bag warning lamp to illuminate in the instrument panel indicating service is required immediately. The air bag warning lamp should never be ignored – it can indicate that the airbag may deploy inadvertently or that it may not deploy in a crash.”
While Ford says the company knows of no crashes caused by this defect, the NHTSA has received 323 reports associated with the defect. 98 of the reports for an airbag light illumination condition and 225 reports were for airbag deployments resulting in 66 injuries, including abrasion, contusion and cuts to the arm/hand/face and/or upper body regions. One owner reported a broken tooth and two owners reported a loss of consciousness resulting from the airbag deployment.