Federal regulators and Ford Motor Company are in negotiations over whether to expand a Ford F-150 airbag recall that was first issued in February.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that as many as 1.3 million vehicles could ultimately be affected by the F-150 recall, which was initially limited to about 144,000 trucks. Ford has reportedly resisted a recall of that scope to date. The two sides are currently in talks over whether the recall should be expanded and by how many vehicles.
The original recall affected 2005 and 2006 model year Ford F-150s that may contain a defect that allows an airbag wire to rub against the horn plate’s metal edges. This creates a risk of a short circuit that can cause the airbags to deploy unexpectedly, potentially causing injury or an auto accident.
The problem has been under investigation by the NHTSA since 2009. In January, the agency sent a letter to Ford urging a recall of 1.3 million vehicles. But Ford has rejected classifying the problem as a defect, and only recalled 144,000, saying that it did so to avoid a dispute with the NHTSA.
To date, the NHTSA says it has reports of 269 unexpected Ford F-150 airbag deployments, one accident and 98 injuries. Those injuries have included bone fractures, burns and damage to teeth. NHTSA officials say that unless Ford addresses the problem more aggressively, the number of incidents will steadily increase over time.
The automaker said that the agency’s demands lacked common sense and said that drivers were at little risk because of a safety warning light that comes on before the airbag deploys. Ford officials have said that the only drivers who appear to be at risk are those who ignore warning lights.