Under pressure from safety regulators, Ford is recalling nearly 1.2 million older F-150 pickups, as well as a small number of Lincoln Mark LT trucks, for airbags that could deploy without warning, injuring the occupants and increasing the risk of a crash.
The recall expands a February recall of 144,000 of the 2004-2006 model trucks by Ford. At the time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had expanded its probe of the problem to look at 1.56 million of the trucks, triple the number involved in a preliminary investigation of 2005 models, and wanted a larger recall.
NHTSA had nearly 270 reports of bags going off unexpectedly, with more than 60 injuries, including two people who reported they were knocked unconscious.
Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood told the Detroit Free Press that Ford knows of one incident in which a driver got out of his truck after the bag deployed in his driveway.
"We are aware of the reports, but they did not involve accidents," he said. "The vast majority are reports of minor injuries such as bumps and contact abrasions, similar to rug burns. Many of the reports are ambiguous."
With this action, Ford appears to have decided it needed to recall nearly all the trucks to resolve the matter with regulators.
Ford has said the problem was caused by an electrical short due to wire chafing in the air bag/horn assembly. It had resisted a wider recall, saying at the time of the earlier one that the problem came as the trucks were started, not while under way.
Ford also argued that the air bag warning would alert the driver of the problem, and the unintended deployment would happen only if the warning was not heeded.
F-Series trucks are the nation's best-selling vehicles.
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