Nearly 2 million Ford F-150 pickups are being recalled because of a seatbelt defect that could lead to a fire following a crash, the automaker announced Thursday morning.
The issue involves the pretensioners used to cinch seatbelts tight following a crash. But, on late-model versions of the F-150, the pyrotechnic system used to activate the pretensionsers “can generate excessive sparks when they deploy.”
“When sufficient sparks are present, gases exhausted inside the lower portion of the B-pillar by the pretensioners may ignite,” Ford said in a statement. “If this gas ignites, components behind the B-pillar such as insulation and carpet may subsequently catch fire.”
The situation that creates could be compounded by the fact that a crash has already occurred. In such an instance, passengers may be incapacitated or otherwise unable to exit the vehicle where they could be exposed to smoke or even a fire.
(Toyota recalling 1m hybrids worldwide over fire risk. Click Here for the story.)
So far, said Ford, it has been notified of 17 reports of smoke or fire in F-150s sold in the U.S., and another six involving trucks sold in Canada. It also noted that it did not know of any accidents or injuries caused by the defect.
The recall covers just F-150 pickups, and not the rest of the F-Series line-up. It involves trucks from the 2015 to 2018 model-year produced at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan truck plant between March 12, 2014 and Aug. 23, 2018, as well as those assembled at a plant in Kansas City between Aug. 20, 2014 through Aug. 23, 2018.
Of the total 1.995 million pickups covered by the recall, 1.619 million were sold in the U.S. North America is the primary market for the F-150, though some of the trucks are shipped to Latin America, the Middle East and a handful of other foreign countries.
Ford plans to send out recall notices in the coming weeks and dealers will make repairs at no cost to owners, though the company said in a regulatory filing that the service campaign is expected to cost around $140 million.
(Click Here to see more about trucks leading August new vehicle sales in the U.S.)
As the most profitable product line built by Ford, that’s a relatively insignificant number. The F-Series has not only been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for the past three decades, but the most popular vehicle overall. Demand totaled 896,764 last year, Ford selling one of the pickups, on average, every 30 seconds. And while the overall U.S. market has been losing momentum, demand for the F-Series continues to grow. The truck saw its 16thconsecutive month of year-over gains in August, posting its strongest performance for the month since 2005.
The new recall is the latest service action to address a safety defect involving the F-150. In August, Ford recalled the truck, as well as the big Expedition SUV sharing the same platform, due to a transmission defect that could cause the vehicles to roll away even after the transmission was placed in park and the keys removed. A total of 350,000 vehicles were covered by that recall.
Meanwhile, there have been a number of recalls over the past year involving vehicle fire hazards. The most recent was announced earlier this week by Toyota.
(Ford investigating reports of Ford F-150 fires. Click Here for the details.)
The Japanese automaker said it was recalling more than 1 million hybrids worldwide due to a wiring defect that could lead to smoke or even a fire. That includes about 200,000 Prius hybrids sold in the U.S.