The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into reports of spontaneous driver front airbag deployments in 2004-06 Ford F-150 light-duty pickups. More than 1.56 million trucks could be affected.
According to NHTSA's investigation summary, Ford reports that the inadvertent airbag deployments are most likely caused by a sharp edge on the airbag's horn mounting plate that can chafe an airbag wire leading to an electrical short that may trigger a deployment. So far, 225 deployments have been reported with 66 injuries, including two owners being knocked unconscious and one owner who suffered a broken tooth. Ninety-eight of the reports are related to the airbag warning light activating to warn of a potential problem.
Ford made an interim design change to the horn mounting plate in January 2006 and redesigned it, along with the airbag module and wiring, in June 2006 for model year 2007.
Ford safety spokesman Wes Sherwood told PickupTrucks .com that the company has provided requested documentation to the NHTSA to assist with the investigation and will fully cooperate with the federal agency. Sherwood said it's too early to determine if a recall might be necessary.
NHTSA's investigation is in the earliest stage, and the only way the agency will issue a recall is if it finds a reason for concern, though Ford could take some kind of action before that happens. We’ll keep you posted.