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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)

2003 Acura CL, 2013-16 Acura ILX, 2003-06 Aura MDX, 2007-16 Acura RDX, 2002-06 Acura TL, 2009-14 Acura TL, 2010-14 Acura ZDX, 2001-07 Honda Accord, 2009 Honda Accord, 2001-05 Honda Civic, 2002-07 Honda CR-V, 2010-11 Honda CR-V, 2003-11 Honda Element, 2007 Honda Fit, 2002-04 Honda Odyssey, 2003-08 Honda Pilot, 2006-14 Honda Ridgeline: Manufacturer: American Honda Motor CompanyNumber of vehicles affected: 1,108,939Report Date: March 6, 2019Issue: Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling specific 2003 Acura 3.2CL, 2013-2016 ILX, 2013-2014 ILX Hybrid, 2003-2006 MDX, 2007-2016 RDX, 2002-2003 3.2TL, 2004-2006, and 2009-2014 TL, 2010-2013 ZDX and 2001-2007 and 2009 Honda Accord, 2001-2005 Civic, 2003-2005 Civic Hybrid, 2001-2005 Civic GX NGV, 2002-2007 and 2010-2011 CR-V, 2003-2011 Element, 2007 Fit, 2002-2004 Odyssey, 2003-2008 Pilot, and 2006-2014 Ridgeline vehicles. The affected vehicles received a replacement driver air bag inflator as part of a previous Takata inflator recall remedy or a replacement driver air bag module containing the same inflator type as a service part. Due to a manufacturing error, in the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver frontal air bag, these inflators may explode. An explosion of an inflator within the driver frontal air bag module may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver, front seat passenger or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.Solution: Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver’s air bag inflator with an alternate inflator, free of charge. Owners will be notified of the recall beginning on April 17, 2019, however, dealers are ready to begin repairs immediately.Contact: Honda owners may contact customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda’s number for this recall is O41. Acura owners may contact customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Acura’s number for this recall is U40.

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