WASHINGTON – U.S. auto safety regulators again warned drivers that certain older pickups made by Ford Motor Co. should be parked until they replace dangerous air bags that can explode in a crash.
The 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups contain defective air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first warned in January should not be driven because the parts pose “an immediate risk to safety.”
NHTSA issued an additional warning Monday due to slow progress in replacing the defective parts, which can explode in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. The defect has been linked to more than a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.
“I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall — these air bags are dangerous,” Heidi King, deputy NHTSA administrator, said in a statement. “Every vehicle must be accounted for now.”
The defective parts have been replaced in about 49 percent of the 33,320 Rangers and 55 percent of the 2,205 Mazda pickups, NHTSA said. Ford produced the Mazda pickups under a joint venture.
Ford first notified affected customers in January “but there is still more work to do,” Ford spokesman John Cangany said. “We appreciate NHTSA’s efforts to help us reach these customers because it is urgent that owners of these 2006 Ford Rangers bring in their truck for a free repair.”
Dealers for both brands will tow the trucks for repairs free of charge.
More than 60 million Takata air bag inflators will be recalled under an U.S. order.