Seat belt-related fire reports resulted in a massive Ford recall.
Ford Motor Company announced on Sept. 6, 2018 they will recall approximately 2 million pickup trucks after discovering their seat belt components could catch fire.
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Ars Technica reported the Dearborn, Michigan-based manufacturer received 23 reports of seat belt pretensioners causing smoke or fire after crash situations: 17 in the United States and six in Canada. A Consumer Reports article published Aug. 8, 2018 stated three pickups were “totally destroyed” by seat belt-related fires.
Seat belt pretensioners deploy during crash situations to pull the belt taut, better securing occupants at the moment of impact. Some operate via mechanical systems triggered by the vehicle’s safety systems, while others use small explosive charges achieving the same effect.
However, the seat belt pretensioners found in 2 million 2015-2018 Ford F-150 Regular Cab and 2015-2018 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab can generate excessive sparks.
“When sufficient sparks are present, gases exhausted inside the lower portion of the B-pillar by the pretensioners may ignite,” Ford said in a press release issued Sept. 6, 2018.
The Consumer Reports article states one July 7, 2018 incident in Grand Rapids, Michigan occurred after a deer ran into the side of an affected vehicle, triggering the pretensioner. A passenger noticed a fire while retrieving their purse from the back seat, and the vehicle went up in flames within minutes.
Ford spokesperson Elizabeth Weigandt said they are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to notify consumers.
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“We take the safety of our customers very seriously,” Weigandt said. “We are investigating the matter and will cooperate with the agency, as we always do.”
The affected vehicles were built at Ford’s Dearborn Assembly Plant from March 12, 2014 to Aug. 23, 2018 and the Kansas City Assembly Plant from Aug. 20 to Aug. 23, 2018.
Ford stated dealers will remove insulation material from the B-pillar trim, remove wiring harness tape remnants and apply heat-resistant tape to the carpet and insulation, free of charge. Dealers will also modify the back interior panels in Regular Cab trucks.
The manufacturer of your vehicle is legally required to fix any recalled problems for free. If the dealership refuses to fix the part or tries to charge you for the repair, contact the manufacturer immediately. The Highway Safety Act of 1970, which created the NHTSA, requires car manufacturers to pay for the recall and replacement of a defective part.
If the manufacturer fails to repair, replace, repurchase, or provide the loss value of your recalled vehicle, they are violating the warranty and a lawyer may be able to help you. Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.