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After feeling the pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford has agreed to recall an additional 1.2 million pickup trucks because the driver’s air bag may inadvertently deploy.
The models are the 2004-6 F-150s and the 2006 Lincoln Mark LT, a sibling.
In February, Ford recalled about 135,000 F-150s in the United States from the 2005-6 model years, but that was about one-tenth of the number the safety agency said should be recalled, The New York Times reports.
Ford said the 135,000 vehicles had the highest failure rates and told the agency that recalling more would lack “common sense.”
But in a series of letters, the agency accused Ford of skewing the data and said its review found the pickups had the largest number of inadvertent deployments in the agency’s history.
The agency also dismissed Ford’s argument that a warning light would be enough to warn the driver of a problem, the NY Times reports. The agency said some dealers had trouble figuring out the problem and because the deployment was as loud as a gunshot, a startled driver could lose control of the vehicle.
Ford told the agency in an April 11 letter that “after continuing discussions with the agency and to reassure customers of Ford’s commitment to safety and to eliminate any possible customer confusion, Ford is voluntarily recalling this remaining population of vehicles.”
In that letter Ford did not concede there was a safety defect. Doing so could create a problem for the automaker because in 2006 it made a mid-model year change to the wiring on the air bags, the Times reports. That indicates it was aware of a problem. Under federal regulations, when an automaker knows of a safety defect, it must notify the agency within five working days or face civil penalties.