Ford is recalling over 3 million vehicles in the US and Canada for faulty airbags. The faulty cars were linked to 18 deaths and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rejected Ford’s appeal to replace the airbags, CNN reports.
Ford’s airbags were manufactured by Takata, a Japanese company that has since become defunct due to bankruptcy. Many of the airbags made by the company had issues with their inflator, which caused the airbags to explode inside the vehicle on impact, spraying sharp objects throughout the vehicle. Asides from the 18 linked deaths occasioned by the airbags, about 400 drivers and passengers alike have been seriously injured from the defective airbags.
The recall mandate, which commenced in 2014, has seen the recall process reach a whopping 67 million airbags in US vehicles, out of 40 million cars so far. Such is the massive number of vehicles involved that it has been tagged the biggest auto recall in history.
An important fact to note is that the Takata airbags used by Ford are quite different from the models involved in previous recalls. Yet, the NHTSA would not be convinced by Ford’s explanation, as they ordered the Ford vehicles to be recalled, saying it was too great a risk to ignore.
General Motors had lodged a similar appeal last year when the NHTSA ordered that the company recall about 7 million of its vehicles – mainly pickups and SUVs. Mazda was also one of the companies whose appeals were rejected. However, Mazda had only a few 5,800 pickups to recall.
In the long line of the soon-to-be-recalled vehicles are 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. For the Mazda vehicles, only the 2007 to 2009 B-Series pickup trucks would be recalled.
Ford said it would contact vehicle owners to notify them if their vehicles are among those designated for recalls. On the other hand, vehicle owners can check their VIN on the NHTSA dedicated site. Vehicles owners would not be charged for repairs on their airbags.
Ford will be spending about $610 million to repair every one of the defective vehicles. It would have shared this responsibility with Takata, but since the company is now defunct, Ford would be bearing the cost alone.
Ford spokesperson Monique Brently said safety has always been Ford’s priority above everything else. However, the company explained that the Takata-made airbags in its vehicles operated quite differently from others that have been identified with defects, and there was no need for the recall order by the NHTSA. Ford said, regardless, it would be obeying the decision by the regulator.
Explaining its decision on the matter, the NHTSA said the implications of the defective airbags on drivers and passengers were too risky to be waved aside. The regulator deemed Ford’s argument not solid enough.