Dearborn, Michigan – Dec. 28, 2017 – The Ford Motor Company recently issued a recall of more than 10,000 of its Escape light sport utility vehicles from the 2018 model year, citing concerns over side curtain air bag inflator diffusers, according to a defect report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Specifically, the issue relates to vehicles that have side curtain air bags installed on either the driver or passenger side, which contain top-hat diffusers on their inflators. In the affected vehicles, these diffusers “do not have the expected part geometry,” and may detach during a crash in which the side curtain air bags deploy.
This is a similar issue to one seen in recent Kia and Hyundai model year 2018 recalls as well.
Of the 10,157 Escape SUVs in the recall, only 1 percent are expected to come with this defect. All were produced between Nov. 13-29, 2017, but not in VIN order.
The air bag inflator diffusers being an unexpected shape – and therefore not fitting properly with the inflator – may cause the air bags may not inflate properly in the event of a crash in which they are deployed, and could even launch the diffuser as a projectile into the vehicle itself, both of which increase the risk of injury.
The supplier of the part was the first to identify the issue during a testing period, and informed Ford of the potential problem as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, there is no way for drivers to know whether this defect impacts their vehicles before they take the Escapes in for repairs.
Timeline of Events
On Nov. 16, 2017, the supplier was performing lot acceptance testing on the diffuser parts when it noted a potential issue, and determined that the improper metal forming of a sub-supplier’s top-hat diffuser could lead to the problems related to the recall. Additional testing turned up more lots of inflators that may have had the diffuser defect.
The supplier notified Ford of the potential issue Nov. 28, and the automaker’s Field Review Committee assessed the situation and approved the recall Dec. 11.
To this point, Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the defect.
Ford will ask owners of the potentially affected vehicles by mail to take their Escapes to local Ford or Lincoln dealers, where the side curtain airbags on both the driver and passenger sides will be inspected for the defect. If they’re discovered, the components will be replaced at no charge.
The recall will not include a reimbursement plan because all such repairs would be covered under the original warranty.
Ford notified dealers of the recall Dec. 19, and will begin notifying owners Jan. 29, 2018 by mail. That notification period will likely end by Feb. 2, 2018.