Ford recalls 2 million F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab trucks over seatbelt fires

by Jim Orr

Ford has recalled two million F-150 pickup trucks due to problems with a seatbelt mechanism in the vehicles that could lead to fire. The recall includes more than 1.6 million Ford F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab models for the 2015-2018 model years.

Ford has received at least 17 reports of fires in the U.S. and 6 reports in Canada linked to problems with the pretensioner in the recalled F-150 models, the company said in a press release. The company said that it was not aware of any injuries linked to problems in the recalled pickup trucks.

Ford’s decision to recall the two million trucks comes a few weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation following five reports of fires linked to the defective seatbelt mechanism. The NHTSA says that at least three of these vehicles were completely destroyed by fires that started due to sparks from the seatbelt pretensioner.

Concerns about the risk of fires in F-150 trucks first arose in November 2017, when Transport Canada – the Canadian auto regulator – contacted Ford regarding a report of a fire that started in the B-pillar area of a 2015 truck model. The B-pillar is a support located behind the front seat windows of the F-150 trucks. Ford and Transport Canada launched an investigation of the fire, but they were unable to determine the cause of the fire. Ford also received reports of four cases of fire in the B-pillar area of the recalled trucks, but was unable to identify any issues that could be responsible for the fires.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the fire was linked to problems with a mechanism in the recalled vehicles known as a pretensioner. The device uses an explosive charge and a small device that emits gas to lock the vehicles’ seatbelts in place. Ford says that during an accident, the pretensioner may generate excessive sparks that could ignite the gas, causing insulation and carpets near the device to catch fire.

Ford says that it will repair the defective seatbelt mechanism in the recalled F-150 models at no cost to vehicle owners. In order to repair the seatbelt pretensioner, dealers will need to remove insulation materials and wiring harness tape from the B pillar area of the trucks. Dealers will also need to apply heat resistant tape to the carpet and insulation of the recalled vehicles, and modify the back interior panels in F-150 Regular Cab models.

Ford says that the defective components in the recalled 2015-2017 F-150 trucks were built by the Japanese manufacturer Takata, which has recalled tens of millions of airbags worldwide that were linked to deaths and injuries in the event of a crash. The defective parts in the 2018 models were built by ZF Friedrichshafen.

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