Much like General Motors, Ford has for years been fighting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s order to recall several million cars carrying potentially defective Takata airbag inflators. And also like GM, the Blue Oval’s appeals have been unsuccessful, as Reuters reported Tuesday that Ford must repair the affected cars after all.
The recall will cover driver-side airbags in certain Ford and Mazda models manufactured in 2006-12, per the Associated Press and listed below. In total, three million vehicles are affected.
- 2007-11 Ford Ranger
- 2006-12 Ford Fusion
- 2007-10 Ford Edge
- 2006-12 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ
- 2007-10 Lincoln MKX
- 2006-11 Mercury Milan
- 2007-09 Mazda B-Series
To date, more than 100 million cars with faulty Takata inflators have been recalled globally due to a design defect that has sent shrapnel toward occupants during deployment. Takata used ammonium nitrate to produce a controlled explosion to inflate the airbags, but in humid conditions, the propellant chemicals degraded. As a result, the airbag inflation would be so intense that it’d destroy the inflator housing itself, ejecting metal into the cabin.
In Takata’s early attempts to slap a Band-Aid on this problem, the company employed calcium sulfate to absorb moisture, theoretically reducing the risk of the ammonium nitrate degrading and the mechanism blowing apart in the event of an accident. Ford argued that this measure made these particular vehicles safe, but NHTSA has determined they’re still at risk, unlike later models that used different chemistry with a lesser chance of failure.
NHTSA is ordering Ford and Mazda to establish a plan to inform owners and repair vehicles within the next 30 days. The government estimates some 17 million vehicles are still on U.S. roads with faulty airbags. To date, the defect is confirmed to have caused at least 27 deaths worldwide — 18 in the U.S. — and more than 400 injuries.
GM essentially faced the same fate as Ford last November, when its own petition failed and the company was forced to agree to recall nearly six million trucks and SUVs it deemed safe “based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years.” At the time of the NHTSA’s ruling in that case, two months ago, the AP reported that the government’s decision marked “a major step in drawing the Takata saga to a close:”
It means that all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in the U.S. will be recalled, NHTSA said. Earlier this year the agency decided against a recall of inflators with a moisture-absorbing chemical called a dessicant. NHTSA said it would monitor those inflators and take action if problems arise.
Just when you think you’ve recalled all the metal-hurling airbags, another few million crop up.