Ford is pushing back on a potential new recall of more than two million vehicles equipped with a different type of airbag inflator from those already part of the massive Takata recall, saying the danger has not been clearly established. The news came as a potential 18th death worldwide involving the type of inflator already recalled has been reported in a Honda CR-V in Australia.
Regarding the new type of inflator, Takata this month recalled 2.7 million airbag inflators that include a desiccant, or drying agent, to protect the propellant from degradation. The desiccated inflators were thought to be safe, but the company said testing showed this might not be the case.
All non-desiccated Takata inflators, which can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into the cabin, already have been recalled. They are being replaced in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-supervised action through 2020 that will affect 46 million inflators in 29 million vehicles.
After this new Takata recall of inflators using a particular type of drying agent, it is up to the automakers to issue specific recalls for the vehicles and make the repairs. These inflators were used in Nissan, Ford and Mazda vehicles, and Nissan followed the latest Takata action with a recall of the driver-side airbag inflators in about 515,000 of its 2007-11 Versa sedans and 2007-12 Versa hatchbacks.
Ford and Mazda, however, have notified NHTSA that they will petition to study these inflators before any recalls. The vehicles include 2006-12 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ sedans, 2007-10 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX SUVs, and 2007-11 Ford Ranger pickup trucks, according to the Associated Press. Mazda is following Ford on the issue because its affected vehicles are about 6,000 Ranger-based Mazda pickups from the period when Ford controlled Mazda. "We intend to file a petition with NHTSA to further study our inflators," Ford said in a statement. "At this point, there is no data to suggest a recall is needed."
The likely 18th Takata-linked death worldwide (there have been 12 in the U.S.) occurred July 20 in Sydney, Australia, in a crash involving a Honda CR-V. Police there said the male driver was struck in the neck by shrapnel, and the incident was being investigated. A statement from Honda Australia confirmed, "The vehicle involved, a 2007 Honda CR-V, was the subject of Takata airbag inflator recalls." The company offered condolences to the man's family and said it is "working closely with authorities to provide whatever assistance is needed."