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Ford F-150 seat belt fires spark federal investigation

Autoblog logo Autoblog 8/10/2018 Nick Kurczewski
a car parked in front of a truck© Provided by AOL Inc.

Seat belts are there to save lives but, in the case of 2015-2018 model year Ford F-150 trucks, the trusted safety device could be to blame for vehicle fires immediately following a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports that seat belt pretensioner systems fitted to Ford's hugely popular pickup truck might be at fault in five fires, three of which completely destroyed the affected vehicles.

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According to this summary, available online at NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation, the potential culprit could be seat belt pretensioners manufactured by two automotive suppliers, ZF TRW and Takata. The latter of the two, Takata, is still embroiled in a massive recall over tens of millions of faulty airbags, which have caused hundreds of injuries and more than 20 deaths globally.

This seat belt investigation covers Ford F-150s manufactured from 2015 through the current model year. Following an accident in which the pretensioner becomes activated, it has been reported that fires soon began in the B-pillar, where the safety system is located.

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A seat belt pretensioner itself is there to help cinch down a seat belt during a crash, to pull the occupant firmly into the seat and offer better protection and less movement during an accident.

For the moment, this is not a recall and Ford F-150 owners can continue to use their vehicle. But the potential number of affected trucks is staggering when you consider the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for decades. Ford sold nearly 900,000 units of the F-150 last year. Any potential recall, if one is issued by the NHTSA, could encompass millions of vehicles.

Thankfully, while several trucks have been destroyed or severely damaged, there have been no reports of injuries directly related to the F-150's seat belt pretensioner system.

Recall watch: The latest automotive safety recalls (Provided by AutoNXT)

2018-19 Toyota Tundra, Sequoia; 2019 Toyota Avalon: Manufacturer: Toyota Motor Engineering & ManufacturingNumber of vehicles affected: 168,187Report Date: October 4, 2018Issue: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Toyota Tundra and Sequoia vehicles and 2019 Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid vehicles. The air bag electronic control unit (ECU) may erroneously detect a fault during the vehicle start-up self check. If this occurs, the ECU may not deploy the airbags as intended, in the event of a crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection,” and 214, “Side Impact Protection.” If the air bags do not deploy as intended, it can increase the risk of injury in a crash.Solution: Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will update the software for the air bag ECU, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 22, 2018.Contact: Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota’s number for this recall is J0X.

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