Ford is recalling nearly 150,000 F-150 trucks due to a known problem that could cause airbags to deploy without warning. The recall, which is much smaller in scope that what the government had originally requested, covers model year 2005-2006 F-150s in the United States and Canada.
According to Ford the air bag wire located in the steering wheel would chafe due to the possibility of having been improperly positioned. The chafing would expose bare copper, thereby creating the possibility of a short circuit causing the airbag warning lamp to light up. Ford said that most of the incidents involving the inadvertently deploying air bag occurred within the first few seconds of the vehicle starting up. One customer even jumped from the truck after the airbag deployed while the F-150 was in in a driveway.
In a November 2010 memo, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cited 77 injuries out of 238 cases in which the airbags deployed improperly. The agency told The Blue Oval that it should recall 1.3 million model year 2004-2006 F-150s — the best selling vehicle in America.
In a statement Wednesday, Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said that the recall covers trucks built from November 2004 through June 2005 at Ford’s Norfolk, VA assembly plant, adding that the majority of the complaints so far involved trucks built during the first shift of production. The rates of the air bags inadvertently deploying, according to Sherwood, were much higher in trucks built at the Virginia plant than in Missouri or Michigan — the other two facilities that build the F-150. NHTSA said that it was aware of production changes Ford made to the trucks in 2006 and 2007 to fix the issue.
The recall is expected to begin in early March. Owners will be notified and told to bring their truck to their dealer.