Ford Motor Co (F.N) said it is recalling 262,000 Fiesta subcompacts from model years 2011-2013 to reprogram the passenger side curtain air bags.
The vehicles originally were programmed so the passenger side curtain air bags would not deploy in certain crashes if the front passenger seat were empty, Ford said.
That information is not explained in the vehicle owner's manual, according to the official recall notice posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The recall includes 154,604 Fiestas in the United States, with the rest in Canada, Mexico and South America.
Ford will reprogram a computer module on the vehicles so that the passenger side curtain air bags will not be suppressed in a crash when the front passenger seat is unoccupied, the company said.
(The story corrects "right rear seat" to "front passenger seat" in paragraphs 2 and 5.)
(Reporting By Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)