Ford recalls two million trucks to address seat-belt fire concerns

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[September 06, 2018]    By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it would recall 2 million F-150 pickup trucks in North America to address fire and smoke concerns in seat-belt pretensioners.

An airplane flies above a Ford logo in Colma, California, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

The second-largest U.S. automaker said it was aware of 17 reports of smoke or fire in the United States and six in Canada relating to belt pretensioners, but was not aware of any accidents or injuries as a result of this condition.

The mechanism of the pretensioner, which works in tandem with air bags, involves an explosive charge that locks a seat belt in place during a crash.

Some pretensioners in front seat belts could generate excessive sparks when deployed, resulting possibly in a fire, the company said.

The recall covers 2015-18 Ford F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab vehicles in North America for driver and front passenger seat-belt pretensioners.

Ford said the recall included 1.62 million U.S. vehicles, 340,000 in Canada and 37,000 in Mexico.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last month it was investigating complaints of fire in the seat belt component.

There were five complaints alleging fires following the activation of seat-belt pretensioners, the NHTSA said.

To resolve the issue, dealers will remove some insulation material and remnants of wiring harness tape from the vehicle's B pillar area, and apply heat-resistant tape to the carpet and its insulation. They will also modify the back interior panels of Regular Cab vehicles. The B pillar is the vertical support behind a vehicle's front seat windows.

Transport Canada contacted Ford in November 2017, regarding a B-pillar area fire on a 2015 model year vehicle, prompting a joint vehicle inspection by Ford and Transport Canada.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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