Ford Motor Co. announced today that it is expanding its recall of F-150 pickup trucks to 1.2 million because of an airbag wiring defect.
The trucks were made between 2003 and 2006. In February, Ford recalled about 10 percent -- or 144,000 -- of the F-150 pickup trucks manufactured in 2005 and 2006, claiming they were the only ones with the defect.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration argued otherwise, and pushed Ford to recall thousands more trucks which the government says caused at least 98 reported injuries.
The airbags can pop out unexpectedly without warning, mainly when drivers start the car. Numerous injuries have been reported because of the defect, including broken teeth and noses. Ford said it was not aware of any accidents resulting from the problem.
The problem, officials say, is a wire bundle under the steering wheel column that rubs against a sharp edge.
"If a wiring chafe occurs, the airbag warning lamp will illuminate for an extended period of time prior to any risk of deployment, alerting owners to service their vehicle," Ford said today.
The issue can be fixed by simply wrapping a wire bundle with tape to protect it.
Ford said it will notify impacted owners in May. Owners of affected vehicles will be instructed to take their vehicles to their local dealers for repair at no cost and it is expected to take less than a half day.
Ford's F-Series trucks have been the best-selling in the United States for 34 straight years and the best-selling vehicle, car or truck, for 29 consecutive years.
In March, the company recalled roughly 25,000 2010 Ranger pickup trucks, and more than 9,000 crossover vehicles in the United States and Canada because of possible fuel leaks and electrical shorts that could cause fires.
In February, it recalled nearly 365,000 F-150 pickup trucks in North America to fix a problem in the interior door.
Ford, the only U.S. auto manufacturer that did not receive a federal government bailout in 2009, has slowly seen its sales rise with the slight uptick in the economy. Ford's sales in the United States rose 10 percent in February and 9 percent in January.