Ford Seeks to Avoid Recalling 2.5 Million Vehicles for Airbag Issues

Takata says the vehicles have defective airbag inflators, but Ford thinks the issue is inconsequential.

Carlos Chavez/Los Angeles Times

It turns out Ford manufactured about 2.5 million vehicles with airbag inflators that Takata declared defective just last week. Now, Ford is petitioning US regulators to avoid a massive recall.

Ford spokesman John Cangany told Reuters they will “continue testing and analyzing our inflators” and see for themselves if they present a real threat to safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Ford’s petition seeks an exemption from a recall, since the automaker believes the inflator issue is inconsequential.

The vehicles affected include cars, trucks, and crossovers, including the 2007-2011 Ranger, 2006-2012 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, 2006-2011 Mercury Milan, and 2007-2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

How can Ford get away with not doing a recall? For one thing, there have been zero reported cases of the inflators in question rupturing in the real world, or in testing. However, NHTSA says “testing data shows that the propellant in this inflator is degrading and on the path towards potential ruptures in the future.” Now it’s up to Ford to test these propellants to their limits and see if they can find any significant, real-life defect.

Defective Takata inflators have been linked to 17 deaths and over 180 injuries. It was such a disaster that Takata filed for bankruptcy protection and announced they’re getting out of the airbag business last month. 2.5 million is a lot of cars and, as we’ve seen, it doesn't take a large percentage of defects to cause a huge problem for any company involved.