Seat Belts Causing Fires? Ford F-150 Pickups Under Investigation

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Could the immensely popular Ford F-150 Supercrew pickup have a defective seat belt component causing the trucks to burst into flames? Federal investigators are looking into at least five reports that say “yes.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is examining F-150 seat belt pretensioners after receiving five reports of fires. The fires involved Ford F-150 Supercrew pickup trucks model years 2015-2018. Ford sold about 1.4 million of the trucks during those years, according to NHTSA.

According to the reports, fires started in the trucks’ B pillars following crashes that caused the vehicles’ seatbelt pretensioners to be activated. Three of the trucks were totaled by the fires, according to the owners, but no fatalities or injuries were reported.

The Edwards Law Firm is recognized for its expertise in investigating vehicle crashes involving defective seat belts, and bringing manufacturers to justice on behalf of clients and their families.

“The truck went up in complete flames”

In one complaint, an owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan said that on July 7, a deer ran into the driver’s side of the pickup, causing the side air bags to inflate. After five to 10 minutes, a passenger noticed a fire on the bottom of the post between the front and rear doors where the seat belts are located.

“The truck went up in complete flames in a matter of minutes and is a complete loss,” the owner wrote.

The F-150s in question are equipped with pyrotechnic pretensioners, which use small explosions to tighten and lock seat belts in place during a crash. The F-150 pretensioners are anchored inside the truck’s B pillars, which are the vertical support structures on each side behind the front seat windows. This is where all the fires started, according to the complaints. Other types of pretensioners use mechanical or electrical locking mechanisms.

Takata is One of the Seat Belt Manufacturers

The pretensioners were manufactured by ZF TRW and Takata and provided to other automakers besides Ford. So, this seat belt issue could become a major recall affecting many millions of vehicles, just like the Takata airbag recall.

ODI’s investigation may prove critical to the safety of millions of Americans. When fire erupts after a crash, drivers and passengers are in imminent danger. If a recall becomes necessary, automakers need to act swiftly to replace all the defective seat belts.