According to the news report by CNN, Ford Motor Co. has had to recall 2 million of its F-150 pickup trucks due to fires being started because of a seat belt mechanism malfunction.
This recall is across the North American Continent. According to Ford, the company was aware of 17 reports of a fire broke out or smoke was spotted when the seat belt mechanism failed. Another 6 such cases were also identified in Canada. However, said Ford, no reports of accident or injuries as a result of these incidents have been reported.
According to Ford, the issue lay with the seat belt pretensioners. Pretensioners are devices which are used to reduce the slack in seat belts in case of accidents or crashes so that passengers are protected. The pretensioners use an explosive charge to lock the seat belt in place.
And it was this that was causing the problem, since the gas would ignite if there were too many sparks. Because of this, the insulation and carpets in the truck also caught fire.
The problem has been identified in the F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab models produced between 2015 and 2018, which were manufactured at the Dearborn Assembly Plant in Michigan and the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri.
The majority of the affected pickup trucks are located in the United States. There are about 1.6 million such vehicles. Another 340,000 affected vehicles are located in Canada and the last 37,000 are in Mexico.
Ford said that the affected trucks would be returned to the dealers, who would then remove the insulation material from the B-pillar trim, remove what was left of the wiring harness tape from that area and then apply heat-resistant tape to the truck’s carpet and insulation. The B-pillar is the vertical support that is found behind the front seat windows of a vehicle.
The back interior panels of the Regular Cab pickups would be modified by the deals, Ford stated. All these changes and repairs would be made at no cost to the customer, the company added.
According to the report by Reuters, Ford revealed in a securities filing that the cost of this recall would be about $140 million. This cost would be reflected in the company’s Q3 earnings report. However, Ford did not change its adjusted earnings guidance for 2018.
The recall of these trucks have taken place a few weeks after the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) launched a preliminary investigation last month after 5 complaints were lodged against Ford for this seat belt fire issue. Three of the vehicles in these complaints had been destroyed in the fires caused.
The NHTSA said that even prior to the investigation, it had asked Ford about the fire reports. However, Ford claims that these issues were identified by the company via normal quality checks.
Canada’s auto regulator, Transport Canada, had gotten in touch with Ford back in November of 2017 with regard to fires in the B-pillar area of its trucks. Thus, the company began a joint inspection with the Canadian authorities to figure out what was wrong. However, at that time, the inspection was not successful in finding the cause of the fires.
The German auto parts supplier that built the parts for the trucks in the 2018 models, ZF Friedrichshafen AG stated that it was working closely with the company for these recalls. The components of models built from 2015 to 2017 were built by Takata, now owned by Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp, who did not comment.
After this news broke, Ford’s shares dropped by 0.5% to trade at $9.45.