Laguna Hills, CA – Aug. 21, 2019 – Ford Motor Company says it will pull 2015 Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs from circulation by the tens of thousands due to a seat belt pretensioner issue. Once the front-passenger seat belt is pulled from its anchor to lock into the clasp, the heat that’s generated over time can reduce the tensile strength of the cable. This could prevent the occupant from being properly strapped in. Riding unbuckled dramatically increases the risk of injury or death during a crash.
This recall will get underway soon, but the specific timeline for when owners will received word has not yet been disclosed.
In a press release by Ford, the automaker plans to recall 108,000 midsize cars – the 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ – over a manufacturing flaw that affects the seat belt. In the problematic population, the high temperature generated from deploying the belt may cause the pretensioner to not perform its main function, which is to keep the belt taut and restrain occupants. Over time, the heat that emanates and causes wear could render the seat belt assembly useless.
Ford says it believes the automobiles that contain this flaw came from its manufacturing and distribution plants in either Flat Rock, Michigan or Hermosillo in Mexico. Additionally, the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles were developed between Aug. 1, 2014 and Jan. 30 2015 (Flat Rock) or Aug. 1 and Nov. 21 (Hermosillo).
Timeline of Events
This latest Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ seat belt recall appears to be an expansion of the original one, which occurred a few years ago. At that time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford coordinated to recall nearly 603,400 Fusions and MKZs also because of a seat belt pretensioner defect. This may have spurred the automaker to look into other models whose seat belt assemblies were potentially compromised. Typically when recalls are announced, NHTSA provides a timeline of events that led up to the action, but this wasn’t available at the agency’s website as of Aug. 21.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has a separate seat belt recall underway affecting approximately 7,600 2019 Ford Rangers. The flaw involves the truck’s poke yoke fixture, a component that when compromised can prevent the seat belt from locking. This recall is already underway and began July 29.
Seat belts are proven to save lives – when there’s an issue with them, they almost always result in a recall. In 2018, the most recent year in which data is available, 89.6% of Americans used his or her seat belt while on the road, according to NHTSA data. Of the 37,133 individuals who died in car accidents the year prior, close to 50% were not wearing one at the time of the crash. Had they been, an estimated 2,549 lives might have been spared.
States are serious about ensuring motorists buckle up, as 35 states have primary enforcement laws, meaning motorists can be pulled over and ticketed if they’re not wearing a seat belt. The usage rate is higher in states where these laws are in place, averaging 90% to 86%, NHTSA data shows.
Ford says it’s not aware of any fatalities linked to this seat belt issue but one person was injured, The Associated Press reported.
To ensure drivers observe the law and stay safe, the automaker urges those that receive notifications pertaining to the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ seat belt recall to have an area dealer replace the unit with a fully functional one. This will come at no cost for the repair.
For more information, visit MotorSafety.org.