Ford Recalls 391,000 Ranger Pickups Following Airbag Death

2011 Ford Ranger

Ford is recalling roughly 391,000 older model Ford Rangers equipped with suspected faulty Takata airbag inflators.  The new recall includes pickups from the 2004-2006 model years.

The recall comes after an airbag exploded in a 2006 Ranger pickup last month in South Carolina, killing the driver. Investigators say 52-year-old Joel Knight was killed when metal debris hit him in the neck after his pickup hit a cow in the road and struck a fence.

It is the tenth death linked to the faulty airbags worldwide and the first case involving a vehicle made by someone other than Honda. More than 100 people have been hurt. As with the previous faulty Takata airbags, the Ranger pickup accident involves driver-side inflators.

U.S. federal regulators first reported new airbag death last Friday, after inspecting the Ford Ranger involved in the December accident. Honda and Takata officials also inspected the pickup, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The new accident is part of the reason the NHTSA announced it was expanding a national recall by an estimated 5 million vehicles. The other reason they’re expanding the recall is that officials want to include another type of inflator that hasn’t done well in recent testing.

Ford is the first automaker to announce additional recalls since Friday. In all, the NHTSA expects that 28 million airbag inflators in as many as 24 million U.S. vehicles will have been recalled.

The issue with the Takata inflators is that the chemical propellent can deteriorate over time and become unstable. This is especially true in older models exposed to moisture and high humidity. Under the perfect storm of conditions, the airbag can explode with too much force and sends it metal parts flying into the cabin.

Ford says it will send letters to owners about the recall starting the week of Feb. 22. For more information about the recall, head to Ford’s website.

Photo Credit: Ford
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