UPDATE 2-Ford recalls 144,000 F-150 trucks for airbag risk

Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:41pm EST

* Ford says assembly glitch could cause airbag problem

* Recall covers popular pickup trucks built in 2004-05

* Owners to be notified of recall in March

DETROIT, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) said it would recall about 144,000 F-150 models in the United States and Canada from the 2005 and 2006 model years due to a risk that airbags could deploy because of a short circuit.

The automaker said a mistake in the assembly of the trucks at its Norfolk, Virginia plant could cause an airbag wire in the steering wheel to short circuit.

Ford said that it received an unspecified number of complaints about the airbag problem. In most cases, airbags had deployed just a few seconds after the trucks were started.

A response to NHTSA this week from Ford said the automaker believes, "the condition does not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety. However, to avoid a protracted discussion with the agency and to provide repair to those vehicles most likely to exhibit the condition, Ford is recalling those vehicles produced at the Norfolk Assembly Plant from November 1, 2004, through June 30, 2005."

Ford has now recalled more than 1 million vehicles in the first two months of this year, more than the 600,000 recalled for all of 2010.

A recall notice was not immediately posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website and it was not immediately clear how many drivers complained about the problem, or if there had been any reports of related injuries.

"Ford is aware of one customer that jumped from the vehicle after a deployment that occurred in a driveway," the company said in a statement.

The F-150 is the top-selling vehicle in the United States and Ford's dominance of the lucrative truck market has contributed to its turnaround under Chief Executive Alan Mulally.

Ford said it would notify owners of the vehicles covered by the recall in early March.

The automaker said it expected the repair to replace the potentially flawed wiring harness would take less than half a day and would be done at no charge at Ford dealerships.

Ford said most of the vehicles with the flawed wire appeared to have been built during the first shift working at the Norfolk plant from November 2004 to June 2005.

In cases where the airbag has deployed in the trucks, Ford said a warning light had been illuminated notifying driver's that the vehicle needed service. (Reporting by Kevin Krolicki; editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Tim Dobbyn and Andre Grenon)