Ford To Try To Avoid Recall Of 2.5M Vehicles With Takata Airbags

Image courtesy of (saguarosally)

Last week, federal regulators revealed that millions of additional Ford, Nissan, and Mazda vehicles would be recalled for containing Takata airbag inflators that could explode violently despite containing a chemical meant to lessen the risk of the shrapnel-shooting ruptures. But Ford is looking to avoid another costly recall. 

Reuters reports that Ford will petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to avoid the recall of nearly 2.5 million vehicles tied to the recent recall.

Ford’s petition seeks to continue testing and analyzing the inflators included in model year 2007 to 2011 Ranger, 2006 to 2012 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, 2006 to 2011 Mercury Milan, and 2007 to 2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

A rep for NHTSA tells Reuters that the petition will seek an exemption on the grounds that Ford believes the issue is inconsequential.

Under NHTSA’s rules, carmakers have 30 days to submit petitions to recalls. Once a petition is filed, the agency will accept public comment prior to making a decision.

The Recall

Last week’s recall, which came in addition to the 42 million inflators Takata previously recalled, was necessitated after Takata determined that certain driver frontal airbag inflators that use calcium sulfate as a desiccant may rupture due to propellant degradation as a result to exposure to humidity.

The inflators, which were either originally used in the vehicles or used as replacements after a crash, differ from Takata’s previous recalls because they contain calcium sulfate, a chemical meant to be a drying agent.

Takata noted [PDF] that while it was unaware of any ruptured inflators that use a desiccant in vehicles on the road or in lab testing, analysis of the inflators showed a pattern of propellant density reduction over time.

In other words, the chemical can break down over time, becoming less effective in preventing violent airbag inflator ruptures that have been linked to at least 12 deaths in the U.S.

Affected Vehicles

In addition to the Ford vehicles potentially covered by the recent recall, Nissan and Mazda have revealed which of their vehicle models are affected by the recall.

In Nissan’s case, the carmaker says the recall covers about 627,000 model year 2007 to 2012 Versa vehicles with Takata driver side airbag inflators.

In a filing with NHTSA [PDF], Nissan said testing of nearly 900 inflators found no ruptures. However, one exhibited “elevated internal pressure.”

“Upon consultation with NHTSA and out of abundance of caution, Nissan decided to conduct a safety recall on the subject vehicles to address the potential defect identified by Takata,” the recall notice states.

Mazda says that 6,000 of its B-Series pickup trucks are affected by the new recall.

However, a rep for NHTSA tells Reuters that the carmaker will also petition to avoid the recall.

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