Under pressure from U.S. safety regulators, Ford is recalling about two million F-150 pickup trucks in North America, including nearly 340,000 in Canada, because the seat belts can spark and cause fires when they deploy during a crash.
The recall of F-150 pickup trucks from the 2015 through 2018 model years comes about one month after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating fires, including three that destroyed trucks.
Ford said Thursday that it has reports of smoke or fire in 17 U.S. trucks and six Canadian trucks, but it’s not aware of any injuries.
According to Ford, seat belt pretensioners can generate excessive sparks when they tighten before a crash. That can ignite gases inside a support pillar between the front and rear seats, causing insulation and carpet to catch fire.
The vehicles affected are:
- 2015-18 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Assembly Plant, March 12, 2014 through Aug. 23, 2018
- 2015-18 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Aug. 20, 2014 through Aug. 23, 2018
There are 339,884 of the vehicles in Canada, 1,619,112 in the U.S. and 36,780 in Mexico.
The seat belt pretensioners were made by ZF-TRW and Takata, the now-defunct air bag and seat belt maker that was purchased by Joyson, another auto parts supplier.
Dealers will remove insulation and install heat-resistant tape to repair the trucks. They also will remove remnants of wiring tape and modify interior panels in Regular Cab trucks. Owners will be notified starting Sept. 24.
In one of the complaints filed with the U.S. government, an owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told NHTSA that on July 7, a deer ran into the driver’s side of a pickup, causing minor damage. The side air bags inflated, and after five to 10 minutes, a passenger noticed a fire on the bottom of the post between the front and rear doors where the seat belts are located. “The truck went up in complete flames in a matter of minutes and is a complete loss,” the owner wrote.
People who file complaints are not identified in the NHTSA database.
Ford said in a filing Thursday with U.S. securities regulators that the recall will cost about $140 million and will be counted in third-quarter results.
Ford has more details on the recall on its website.