After confirming a second death related to a ruptured Takata airbag in a 2006 Ranger, Ford is telling owners of 2902 affected pickup trucks to stop driving them immediately. The automaker said Thursday that parts are available now for fixes, and it’s contacting the vehicles’ owners. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Ford will also send mobile repair teams to owners’ homes, tow vehicles to a local dealership for repair, and/or provide loaner vehicles.
Ford said it was notified on December 22 about a fatal crash involving a 2006 Ranger that happened last July in West Virginia and confirmed that it linked the death to a ruptured driver’s-side Takata airbag inflator. The automaker inspected the vehicle and found that the inflator was made by the Japanese supplier on the same day as another such part that was blamed for a fatal crash. That one was also in a 2006 Ford Ranger and occurred in South Carolina in December 2015. The affected pickups were built at Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant from August 10, 2005, to December 15, 2005. There are 2712 such trucks in the United States and its territories and 190 in Canada, Ford said.
Globally to date, there have been 21 deaths (including 19 in Honda vehicles) and hundreds of injuries related to the faulty Takata part. Its inflators can explode on airbag deployment, sending metal pieces flying through the vehicle’s cabin. Although the unprecedented safety recall currently spans some 34 million vehicles in the United States, until Ford’s announcement on Thursday only Honda had singled out a specific group of its affected vehicles that should not be driven. Known as Alpha Hondas, they include the 2001–2002 Accord and Civic, the 2002 Honda CR-V and Odyssey, the 2002–2003 Acura 3.2TL, the 2003 Acura 3.2CL, and the 2003 Honda Pilot. A Honda spokesperson told Car and Driver in November that it estimates there are about 100,000 such vehicles on the road and still in need of repair.
U.S. safety regulators have otherwise said the millions of other vehicles affected by the recall are more safe to drive with the recalled airbags still active, because they are far more likely to inflate properly than to rupture in a crash. Ford Ranger pickups from model years 2004 through 2011 had already been part of the Takata airbag recall, which will span some 65 to 70 million vehicles in the United States by 2019, according to NHTSA. See our master list here.
In overseeing the Takata airbag recall, NHTSA has divided affected vehicles into 12 priority groups that correspond to the risk of airbag explosion based on a vehicle’s age and its exposure to heat and humidity. Independent testing has found that the faulty airbag inflators are most likely to rupture after long-term exposure to temperature fluctuations and moisture, so older vehicles and those located in high-humidity parts of the country are considered top priorities for repair.
Owners can check to see if their vehicle is affected and get information by entering their vehicle’s VIN on NHTSA’s online recall lookup tool.