Ford Recalls 80,000+ SUVs for Seatbelt Defects

Ford Recalls 80,000+ SUVs for Seatbelt Defects

In a recent automotive industry development, Ford has issued a recall for over 80,000 SUVs, specifically targeting the 2018-2020 models of the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, due to significant seatbelt defects. These SUVs have seat belt pretensioners in the front seats that may lock the seat belts unnecessarily. This recall highlights a critical safety concern that could potentially compromise passenger security in the event of an accident. 

Ford has provided a statement regarding the nature of the defect, explaining the technical aspects and potential risks associated with it. According to Ford’s statement, “Although unproven, [Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group] theorizes that a water leak related to a drain seal on the right front floor related to air-conditioning usage may increase humidity when Max A/C is used for extended periods and contribute to pretensioner squib pin corrosion.”

Seat belt pretensioners are designed to tighten the seat belts immediately before a crash, thereby holding the passengers more securely and reducing the risk of injury. However, due to the described defect, these pretensioners may deploy without warning or necessity, locking the seat belts. Ford’s hypothesis suggests that prolonged use of Max A/C could exacerbate the situation by increasing interior humidity levels, potentially leading to corrosion of the pretensioner’s squib pin—a critical component for its operation.

The Dangers of Faulty Seatbelts

Faulty seatbelts pose significant risks to vehicle occupants for several reasons. Seatbelts are a critical safety feature designed to protect passengers in the event of a collision by restraining them in a way that minimizes injury. When seatbelts are not functioning correctly, the dangers can include:

  • Increased Risk of Injury or Death: In the event of a crash, a functioning seatbelt distributes the force of the impact across the stronger parts of the body, such as the chest, hips, and shoulders, which are better able to withstand force. A faulty seatbelt may fail to secure the passenger properly, leading to more severe injuries or even fatalities by allowing occupants to collide with interior parts of the vehicle or other passengers or be ejected from the car.
  • Ejection from the Vehicle: One of the most critical roles of a seatbelt is to prevent occupants from being thrown from the vehicle during a crash. Being ejected from a car is associated with a significantly higher risk of death or serious injury, as the occupant may collide with external objects, other vehicles, or the ground at high speeds.
  • Compromised Safety Features: Modern vehicles are designed with a suite of integrated safety features that work together to protect occupants. Seatbelts play a key role in this system by ensuring that airbags and other safety mechanisms function as intended. A faulty seatbelt may disrupt the timing or effectiveness of airbags, potentially leading to greater harm in the event of an accident.
  • Legal and Financial Consequences: Driving with a known seatbelt defect can lead to legal issues, especially if it results in an accident with injuries. Occupants may face increased medical bills, liability for injuries to others, and potential fines or legal penalties for failing to maintain vehicle safety standards.

Seatbelts are one of the most fundamental safety features in a vehicle, designed to protect passengers by distributing the forces of a crash across the stronger parts of the human body. Any compromise in their functionality directly impacts the overall safety of the vehicle, making this recall a matter of urgent concern for all affected owners.

Identifying a Potential Lemon

For owners of the recalled SUV models, this seatbelt issue raises concerns about the overall reliability and safety of Ford vehicles. In legal terms, a “lemon” is a vehicle that has a significant defect that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, making it essentially unsuitable for its intended use. Owners who experience repeated failures related to this seatbelt defect, despite attempts at repair, may have grounds to consider their vehicle a lemon under their state’s Lemon Law.

To determine if their SUV might be a lemon, owners should:

  • Check the Repair History: The primary criterion for a vehicle to be considered a lemon is if it has undergone a certain number of repair attempts for the same issue without a successful resolution. Owners should document all visits to the dealership or repair shops for topics related to the seatbelt defect, including dates, descriptions of the problem, and the actions taken by the dealership.
  • Understand the Lemon Law Criteria in California: Lemon Laws vary by state, including the number of repair attempts that qualify a vehicle as a lemon, the time frame within which these attempts must occur, and the total number of days the vehicle must be out of service due to repairs. Check California’s specific lemon law provisions to understand the criteria applicable to your situation.
  • Consider Warranty Coverage: The vehicle must typically be under the original manufacturer’s warranty. The seatbelt issue should be covered under this warranty for the Lemon Law to apply.
  • Identify Significant Impairment: The defect must substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. Given that seatbelts are a critical safety feature, a defect that prevents them from operating correctly could easily meet this criterion.

If after several repair attempts the seatbelt issue persists, it’s wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in Lemon Law. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and help you navigate the legal process.

Don’t Settle for a Defective Ford SUV

Ford’s recall of over 80,000 SUVs for critical seatbelt defects underscores the importance of automotive safety and the potential risks associated with vehicle malfunctions. Owners of the affected models are urged to take immediate action by contacting their dealer for a repair and to remain vigilant about their vehicle’s performance post-repair, ensuring their safety and the safety of their passengers.

If you believe your Ford Navigator or Expedition may be a lemon after this recall, you can get help. The lemon law attorneys at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys have years of experience representing owners of defective cars in California. Learn more by scheduling your consultation today. 

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