Feds repeat ‘do not drive’ warning for ’06 Ford Rangers

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Federal regulators are again warning owners of 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups that their vehicle are not safe to drive because they have defective air-bag inflators that can explode with deadly force.

Ford and Mazda are recalling more than 380,000 older small pickup trucks for a second time to replace Takata air bag inflators that can explode and hurl shrapnel. The recalls cover driver and passenger inflators in certain 2004 to 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks made by Ford.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that is issuing a second “do not drive” warning for owners of the trucks which have faulty air bags that were made by former Japanese manufacturer Takata. The original warning was issued in January.

NHTSA said just 44 percent of the 33,320 recalled Ford Rangers have been fixed and 55 percent of the 2,205 recalled Mazda B-Series trucks have been repaired. The agency said Ford and Mazda have authorized their dealers to tow the vehicles for free.

“NHTSA’s number one priority is making sure that everyone is safe on our roads. I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these air bags are dangerous,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said in a statement. “Every vehicle must be accounted for now.”

Ford said in a statement that its “dealers are prepared to get vehicles directly from customers, make permanent repairs that will resolve the safety risk and provide a free interim loaner vehicle, if necessary.”

The recalled Ford and Mazda vehicles are part of a widespread callback of Takata air bags has impacted nearly 13 percent of the total number of registered vehicles in the United States. The faulty air bags have been linked to at least 13 deaths and more than 180 injuries in the United States. Worldwide, 22 have died.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says only 22.9 million of the 50 million air bags recalled by March 30 have been repaired. The defective safety devices from the now-bankrupt Japanese auto supplier were used in 37 million cars, and the problem is expected to grow. Another 20 million faulty air bags in newer cars are expected to be added in the next couple of years.

The older the cars get, the higher the risk: Over time, high humidity can cause the propellant that inflates the safety devices to become unstable and explode with too much force during a crash. That ruptures the metal inflator and throws shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Ford has 1.57 million recalled air bags, of which it has fixed 785,000. Mazda has recalled 1.07 million inflators, of which it has fixed 536,000.


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing