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Ford Motor Company joins other manufacturers in recalling certain vehicles that are subject to Takata airbag deployment failures. Overall, about 34 million vehicles worldwide have been issued recall notices to get their Takata airbags replaced. Ford has issued recalls for over 850,000 cars and trucks made in the United States.
Ford – Basic Airbag Problems
Problems with Takata airbags primarily are concerned with proper deployment and malfunctions of inflator parts within the airbags. There are sodium azide and potassium nitrate chemicals inside the inflator that are mixed together upon receipt of an electronic signal from another part of the system. That sensor detects particular movements of the vehicle, such as a sudden decrease in speed or change of position that reflect an impact. These chemicals combine to form hot hydrogen gas, which then expands with extreme force that inflates the airbag. This is accomplished very quickly, at speeds of 100mph or higher.
There are holes in the airbag that allow some of the interior contents to vent, so that the bag itself is not so hard as to cause injury to a vehicle occupant’s chest area or head. The chemicals also can cause harm if a person gets them in their eyes or inhales them. For this reason, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) published a recommendation for drivers to sit away from the steering wheel by at least 10 inches. Airbags also are installed on side door panels, to provide protection from side impact collisions.
Problems with airbags can occur at several stages of deployment. If the signal mechanism is faulty, it could cause airbag inflation when there is no impact. In some cases, reports indicate airbags exploded even when the vehicle was not in use. There are is a metal wiring harness around the inflator that can fracture, along with the inflator part. These fragments would act like shrapnel, flying outward to inflict injury on vehicle occupants. In some vehicles, the main problem involves faulty programming software that can result in delayed deployment of a side curtain airbag.
Airbags are mandatory standard equipment designed to save lives when there is an impact, such as a collision with another vehicle or object. They do this by putting a cushion of air between vehicle occupants and hard surfaces inside their vehicle. Unfortunately, defects in some airbag components, especially the inflator mechanisms, have led to passenger injuries when the airbag does not function as intended.
The worst cases of injury or death resulted from metal shards flying through the vehicle interior and impaling occupants. At least 10 people have died from airbag shrapnel when it penetrated their neck jugular vein. Some side airbags also have malfunctioned, deploying even from slight bumps on the interior panel or from brushing against something on the outside of the door. This has caused unnecessary injury to some passengers, especially small children.
Another problem is related to the noise created upon activation within the small enclosed space inside the vehicle. When an airbag explodes, it creates a very loud noise that can harm the ears and even rupture the eardrum membrane inside the ear. Other injuries affect the chest area and also may cause cardiac problems from the impact of airbag inflation pressure as it explodes, releasing the airbag into the vehicle interior. Eyes are another place where harm may result from impacting the airbag.
Ford Motor Company, along with other manufacturers and vehicle sellers in the U.S., must comply today with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, which finally was put into effect for cars in 1997 and for trucks on September 1, 1998. The Act requires airbag installation in cars and light trucks, on both sides of the front seat. It is proven that airbags do reduce the risk of persons dying in head-on collisions by 30 percent. Airbag use has saved over 10,000 lives since the late 1980s. Airbags today are included on almost 100 million vehicles as standard equipment.
Ford Airbag Recalls
At least 850,000 Ford airbag recalls have been issued for various models from 2004 through current models. Although Ford is aware of only one death attributed to a Takata airbag malfunctioning in a Ford vehicle, in 2016, they had recalls out for 391,394 vehicles. Of these, 361,692 were located in the United States and federalized territories. Another 29,334 vehicles are in Canada. Ford dealers are to replace the driver side airbag inflator free.
Unfortunately, a problem for all manufacturers is obtaining replacement parts from Takata. Some replacement parts were also found to be defective. Problems in production at the Takata manufacturing facility was blamed for this issue. Other replacements never arrived, as one truckload of Takata inflators blew up and burned in August of 2016, in Texas.
Although deaths from airbag failures is a low figure, and accidents from faulty airbag deployment numbers in the low hundreds, Ford has taken care to recall millions of cars and trucks. They want to eliminate the potential risks from airbag defects. To ensure that your car is safe, check with your dealer or run your VIN Number online; there are several websites for this cited at the end of this article.
Some recalls have been issued for the following Ford model cars and trucks built in North America:
- 2004-2011 Ford Ranger
- 2005-2006 Ford GT
- 2005-2014 Ford Mustang
- 2006-2011 Ford Fusion
- 2007-2010 Ford Edge
- 2013-’14 Ford Escape
- 2013-’14 Ford C-Max Hybrid
- 2014 Ford Flex crossovers
- 2014 Ford F-150 pickup trucks
If your vehicle is listed here, or you are want to know if there has been any recall issued by Ford for your particular car or truck, take a few minutes to either call your dealer or to check your VIN Number for recalls online. People who live in warmer, humid climates may have a higher incidence of airbag problems, but it is essential for everyone to address this problem to ensure safety.
Contact Ford online at: www.ford.com, or check with these websites:
Airbag Recall Ford Vehicles
Ford has issued an airbag recall for many vehicles manufactured between 2004 and 2011, including the Ranger, GT, Mustang, Edge and Fusion models.