Ford Motor Company is recalling more than half a million Super Duty pickup trucks in light of problems with the seat belt pretensioner device, which the motor vehicle manufacturer says could cause a fire and increase the risk of injury to vehicle occupants in the event of an accident. Seat belt pretensioners are designed to help secure a vehicle occupant in their seat during a collision, in order to ensure that the occupant makes proper contact with the airbag. When an accident occurs, the pretensioner uses an explosive charge to lock the seat belt in place. However, in some cases, the device can produce excessive sparks, which poses a fire risk and can cause serious injury to vehicle occupants.
The pickup truck recall, announced by Ford on December 13, affects select 2017-2019 Ford Super Duty SuperCrew vehicles with carpet flooring which could be susceptible to post-crash interior fires after an accident in which the seat belt pretensioner is activated. According to the recall announcement, a front seat belt pretensioner in the recalled vehicles that deploys during an accident can generate excessive sparks, possibly causing the carpet or carpet insulation in the area of the B-pillar to ignite. A fire in the B-pillar area, which is the vertical support between the front and rear door that connects the body of the truck to the roof, could quickly spread throughout the cab and increase the risk of injury to vehicle occupants, Ford warns.
In the recall announcement, Ford indicates that it is aware of one report in the United States of a fire occurring because of sparks generated by a seat belt pretensioner in a Super Duty pickup truck. However, this isn’t the first time Ford pickup trucks have been scrutinized over concerns about seat belt pretensioners causing fires during crashes. Just last year, Ford issued a recall of 1.62 million F-150 pickup trucks in North America due to the seat belt pretensioners causing B-pillar fires. As of August 2018, the manufacturer had received 23 reports of smoke or fire occurring during crashes of 2015-2018 Ford F-150 SuperCrew pickup trucks, 17 in the United States and six in Canada.
In its description of the problem that resulted in the 2018 Ford pickup truck recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the following: “Front seat belt pretensioner deployment during a crash event can result in excessive sparks generated by suspect pretensioning devices. In some cases, this could result in the ignition of material in the B-pillar area, including carpet and insulation. Some reports indicate melting, smoke or fire that self-extinguished or was localized, others that propagated.” The 2018 recall affected two seat belt pretensioner manufacturers: Joyson (previously Takata) for 2015-2017 model years and ZF for 2018-2019 model years.
This latest Ford pickup truck recall affects 547,538 vehicles from model years 2017 through 2019, including Ford Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 SuperCrew trucks. The vehicles were manufactured by Ford Motor Company at Kentucky Truck Plant between October 8, 2015 and October 29, 2019, and 490,574 of the vehicles were distributed in the United States, while 56,112 were distributed in Canada and 852 were distributed in Mexico. According to Ford, customers with recalled vehicles should contact their local dealer and reference recall number 19S52 to schedule a free repair.