NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Ford Motor Co. (Stock Quote: F) recalled nearly 1.2 million full-sized pickups Friday because an improperly placed wire in the steering wheel can cause the airbag to deploy unnecessarily.
The recall expands on a previous Ford recall issued on 140,000 pickups in February and was prompted by pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency’s investigation of the earlier recall found that the problem had resulted in 269 cases of inadvertent air bag deployment and 98 injuries. Ford initially refused to expand the recall, but ultimately acquiesced.
The company said in a written letter to the NHTSA that the recall expansion was issued to “reassure Ford’s commitment to safety and to eliminate any customer confusion.”
The recall applies mostly to 2004-2006 F-150 pickup trucks, but also includes some 2006 Lincoln Mark LT vehicles.
The trucks contain a misplaced wire in the steering wheel that can cause a short circuit in the driver-side airbag, making it deploy suddenly and possibly causing injury and/or loss of control of the vehicle.
Ford initially argued that a large recall was unnecessary because the electrical short would illuminate the airbag safety light on the dashboard and alert the driver that service would be needed before the airbag could deploy. To fix the problem, Ford will install a new wire with a mesh covering to prevent the short circuit.
Owners affected by the recall will be notified of when they can bring the trucks in for repairs, which will be performed free of charge. Repairs on the vehicles involved in the expanded recall are expected to start in early May.
Customers with questions can call Ford’s customer relationship center at 1-866-436-7332 or the NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236.