Ford Motor Company has announced that it is expanding its recall of F-150 pickup trucks. The recall will now include nearly 1.2 million 2004 to 2006 model-year F-150s as well as some Lincoln Mark LT vehicles. Ford had previously recalled 144,000 F-150s to fix an electrical problem that could cause the vehicle’s airbags to deploy unexpectedly.
Ford’s announcement of the expanded recall action comes after extensive talks between Ford and safety regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In the e-mail statement, Ford said the problem is likely caused by “wiring chafe” that can potentially create a short circuit and cause the vehicle’s airbags to deploy.
The statement said, “If a wiring chafe occurs, the airbag warning lamp will illuminate for an extended period of time prior to any risk of deployment, alerting owners to service their vehicle.” The statement goes on to say, “We urge all of our customers to seek service immediately for an airbag warning lamp that is illuminated.”
The automaker said it will begin officially notifying owners of the affected vehicles of the recall action next month. The notification will reportedly request that they take their vehicles to their local dealers where repairs will be performed at no cost.
The repair entails replacing a single wire located in the vehicle’s steering wheel and should take less than half a day to complete.
Ford said it is unaware of any accidents resulting from the problem. The automaker said it is “aware of one instance where a driver exited a slowly moving vehicle following a deployment in a driveway.” There was no indication whether or not the driver involved in the incident suffered any injuries.
“In most cases,” the statement said, “the reported deployments have occurred within the first few seconds following vehicle start-up.”
Last February Ford told the NHTSA “the condition does not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.” Despite that assertion, Ford agreed to recall of 144,000 F-150s. Ford maintains its contention that the airbag problem does not present an “unreasonable risk” to motorists, but said it was taking more aggressive actions “to reassure customers of Ford’s commitment to safety and to eliminate any possible customer confusion.”
Following Ford’s decision to expand the recall, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said in a statement: “We are pleased that Ford shares our commitment to safety.” The NHTSA also said that Ford has been completely cooperative throughout the agency’s investigation.
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