* Owners say airbags deployed without warning, injuries
* Up to 1.56 million model year 2004-06 pickups covered
* Ford made design changes for MY 2007 trucks
WASHINGTON, Jan 21 U.S. regulators have
upgraded and significantly expanded the scope of an
investigation into complaints that airbags on certain Ford
Motor Co (F.N) F-150 pickups deployed without warning and
caused dozens of injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
made documents public this week that show the agency is now
looking at model year 2004-06 trucks, covering an estimated
1.56 million vehicles. That is triple the number identified
when the agency launched a preliminary review of 2005 pickups
Safety engineers have upgraded the investigation of the
best-selling F-150 to an engineering analysis, which can
precede a recall. The government gave no indication that a
recall was the next step.
Ford said it was too soon to speculate on an outcome but
was cooperating with the investigation, which covers more than
300 complaints to the automaker from F-150 owners that the
driver's side airbag deployed without warning and not as a
result of a crash.
More than 60 people reported injuries, including cuts to
the face, arms and hands, NHTSA said. Two owners reported
losing consciousness after being struck by the airbag.
Ford believes the problem is most likely caused by an
electrical short in the airbag/horn assembly. Ford made design
changes for 2007 model year F-150s.
(Reporting by John Crawley; Editing Bernard Orr)