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Recalled Ford Ranger Airbags Were Replaced With More Takata Airbags, NHTSA Warns

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More than 140,000 Ford Ranger vehicles are being recalled again, after federal regulators discovered that defective Takata airbag inflators, which pose a risk of exploding and spraying debris into the passenger compartment, may have been replaced with other Takata inflators that may experience the same problems.

The Ford Ranger airbag recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on February 22, after the manufacturer could not locate dozens of recalled single-stage Takata air bag inflators compatible with older model Ford Ranger vehicles.

According to the NHTSA notice, the recall is being issued because at least 45 of the 144,340 previously recalled Ford Ranger vehicles may have mistakenly received a recalled Takata inflator during the repair remedy.

NHTSA indicates the air bags used to replace the driver and passenger air bag modules in certain 2004 through 2006 Ranger vehicles have the potential to explode due to propellant degradation when exposed to high absolute humidity, temperature and temperature cycling.

Officials warn the inflators could rupture unexpectedly and without warning, causing sharp metal fragments from the inflator housing to be projected at the driver and occupants, posing a serious risk of injury or death.

Since 2014, more than 100 million Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide, due to defective inflators which may cause airbags to overinflate and explode, spraying vehicle occupants with potentially deadly shrapnel. The series of recalls has been the largest, and arguably one of the most complex, ever recorded in history, impacting 19 different automobile manufacturers.

To date, at least 25 people have been killed worldwide by recalled Takata airbags and more than 400 have been injured. Of the fatalities, 16 have occurred in the United States; fourteen of which involved a Honda vehicle. At least another seven fatalities involving Honda vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags have been reported outside of the U.S.

Earlier this month, NHTSA officials forced Ford to recall more than 3 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbag inflators which could be prone to rupturing. Ford had petitioned that the Takata airbags used in millions of its vehicles were a similar, but different, version from those involved in the previous recalls.

However, the NHTSA rejected the petition, forcing the Ford recall of millions of vehicles including the 2007 to 2011 Ford Ranger, the 2006 to 2012 Ford Fusion, the 2006 to 2012 Lincoln Zephyr, the 2007 to 2010 Ford Edge and the 2007 to 2010 Lincoln MKX. The Mazda vehicles being recalled are the 2007 to 2009 B-Series pickup trucks.

In November 2020, NHTSA officials denied a similar Takata airbag recall petition filed by General Motors, which sought to avoid recalling about seven million Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe and Avalanche vehicles, as well as Cadillac Escalade, GMC Sierra and Yukon vehicles from the 2007 through 2014.

Although General Motors petitioned the agency at least four times since 2016, contending that the vehicles’ Takata airbags have a lower risk of rupture due to unique design differences, the regulators repeatedly rejected that position.

Since the dawn of the largest and most complex vehicle recall in history started in 2014, NHTSA officials have struggled to oversee the repair process and notify of tens of millions of vehicle owners across the nation of the potentially lethal dangers associated with the recalled inflators.

A number of airbag recall lawsuits have been filed over the massive Takata recall series, including claims by consumers who suffered severe and often life-threatening injuries when the airbag exploded following an accident. Given common allegations raised in the complaints, cases filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

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