Ford is recalling nearly two million of its popular F-150 pickups because of a seatbelt problem that could result in smoke, and possibly even a fire, inside the vehicle.
The F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America with demand growing sharply over the last several years. In fact, the company says it sells an F-150 every 30 seconds.
The problem involves a device known as a pretensioner, which uses a small, pyrotechnic charge, much like those found in airbags. But, in this case, they are designed to cinch a passenger’s seatbelt tight when a crash is detected to reduce the risk of injury or death.
Unfortunately, according to Ford, the seatbelt pretensioner system used on some F-150 models “can generate excessive sparks when they deploy.”
Complicating matters, gases created by the pretensioner “may ignite,” Ford said in a statement, adding that “if this gas ignites, components behind the B-pillar, such as insulation and carpet may subsequently catch fire.”
The B-pillar is the post that separates a vehicle’s front and rear doors.
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 it was aware of 17 reports of smoke or fire in the United States and six in Canada.