Ford F-150 Airbag Problems May Impact 1.3M Pickup Trucks: Report

Following a Ford F-150 recall announced last week, reports indicate that federal regulators believe Ford Motor Company may have only recalled a fraction of the pickup trucks whose airbags may randomly explode into the faces of drivers.  

Ford indicated that approximately 144,000 Ford F-10 pickup trucks from the 2005 and 2006 model year contain a defect that may allow an airbag wire to rub against the horn plate’s metal edges, creating a risk of a short circuit. This could cause the airbags on the pickup trucks to deploy unexpectedly, potentially causing an auto accident for the driver.

According to a report by The New York Times, officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have suggested that the Ford F-150 airbag problems could actually affect 1.3 million trucks.

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Since 2009, the NHTSA has been investigating reports of unexpected airbag deployments in the 2005 and 2006 model year F-150s. Agency investigators determined that 1.3 million of the vehicles are potentially affected and in late January the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) sent Ford an 8-page letter calling for all of the vehicles to be recalled.

“To date, ODI has counted a total of 269 inadvertent driver’s side airbag deployments in the base subject vehicle population, which translates to approximately 20 incidents for every 100,000 vehicles,” the NHTSA’s letter to Ford reads. The letter accuses Ford of low-balling the number of vehicles affected and of attempting to avoid a recall by classifying the problem as “wire chaffing” as opposed to defective airbags. Investigators said the F-150s had the most accidental airbag deployments of any model the agency has ever investigated.

Ford has rejected the claims in the NHTSA’s letter, refusing to call the problem a defect, and only recalling one-tenth of the vehicles. 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. In its response letter, the automaker said it was only recalling the trucks with the highest rates of airbag deployments “to avoid a protracted dispute with the agency.”

The NHTSA classifies the incidents as unintentional airbag deployments and a defect, but Ford says that the F-150 airbag problem is better classified as wire chaffing and is not a defect because the driver is warned before the incident occurs.

The Ford pickup truck recall affects about 144,000 model year 2005 and 2006 F-150 pick-up trucks sold in the U.S. and Canada. The company said it would notify specific owners who are affected by the recall in early March.

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2 Comments

  • JohnJanuary 1, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I had a local mechanic replace my entire steering collumn in my F-250 he replaced it with a used F150 steering collumn"I phoned him within an hour or so of leaving his shop and asked why the cruise control and horn didn't work, he stated it was the only one he had that would fit and after driving it a few weeks I returned to him and told him it seemed lose and didn't work right, he said that it wo[Show More]I had a local mechanic replace my entire steering collumn in my F-250 he replaced it with a used F150 steering collumn"I phoned him within an hour or so of leaving his shop and asked why the cruise control and horn didn't work, he stated it was the only one he had that would fit and after driving it a few weeks I returned to him and told him it seemed lose and didn't work right, he said that it would have to do or " I can put your old one back in if you'd rather" sarcastically and laughed knowing the original one was broken. Yesterday 12/30/2012 I got in my truck, and when I went to start it as always the airbag deployed in my face. My right eye is severly damaged and I may lose vision completely....I hope others are cautious when having work done on their vehicles.

  • JustinMarch 9, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Has any Ford F150 owners had major problems with their 4x4 front hub assemblies? I have had to replace mine every winter due to moisture getting in and freezing causing the acctuator to ingage the 4 wheel drive slightly and then the axle grinds the splines out of the hub. Just curious if i am the only one having this problem.

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