DEARBORN, Michigan — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford Motor Co. are investigating a complaint that a driver of a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina last August was injured by a metal fragment following an airbag deployment.
It is unclear if this Mustang is part of a regional recall of Ford vehicles in high-humidity areas to replace defective Takata airbags.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told Edmunds on Sunday night that the automaker is "working with NHTSA" to investigate the report. Takata is at the center of a recall involving 7.8 million vehicles from 10 automakers with defective airbags.
Regarding the Mustang incident, she added: "Based on the field reports and testing currently available, the Takata airbag inflator designs used in Ford vehicles have not shown the same risk of fragmentation as other Takata airbag inflator designs used by other manufacturers. We are continuing to investigate this issue, and we are cooperating fully with NHTSA and Takata. We will take actions to protect the safety of our customers should these investigations find a similar risk."
The NHTSA complaint says that the August incident happened at a speed of approximately 35 mph.
"The vehicle crashed into the rear end of another vehicle," said the complaint, which was posted on the NHTSA Web site. "The airbag deployed with abrupt force and a metal fragment dislodged, causing injury to the driver's leg which required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 81,000."
The complaint is noteworthy because it occurred outside of the areas that have been named in the regional Takata recalls by Ford, Honda and other automakers. Ford's Takata recall includes Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but not other areas, including North Carolina.
As of October 22, certain 2005-'08 Ford Mustangs are part of an upgraded regional recall of 85,004 Ford vehicles in some high-humidity states and regions to remove and replace the vehicles' airbag inflators that were supplied by Takata, according to a Friday posting by NHTSA.
"NHTSA has asked us — and we are, of course, complying — to notify customers of about 85,000 Ford vehicles to bring their vehicles to dealers so that we can remove and replace vehicles' airbag inflators that were built during a specific time period," Felker said regarding the upgraded recall. "The airbag inflators that are removed from Ford vehicles will be inspected and analyzed, which will help NHTSA and Takata in their investigation."
The upgraded Ford recall includes certain 2005-'08 Ford Mustangs in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands equipped with driver airbags produced by Takata and built at the AutoAlliance Plant from August 16, 2004 to June 25, 2007.
Other vehicles include certain 2005-'06 Ford GT cars in the same locations equipped with driver and passenger airbags produced by Takata at the Wixom Assembly Plant from February 11, 2005 to January 30, 2006.
The upgraded recall also includes certain 2004-?05 Ford Ranger trucks originally sold or currently registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands equipped with driver and passenger airbags produced by Takata and built at the Edison Assembly Plant from August 12, 2003 to March 1, 2004.
In addition, the recall includes certain 2004-'05 Ford Rangers in the aforementioned areas equipped with driver and passenger airbags produced by Takata and built at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant from May 21, 2003 to May 4, 2005.
Felker said the updated recall includes changes to the build dates of previously recalled Ford vehicles.
At the request of NHTSA in October, Ford agreed to replace the driver-side frontal airbag inflators in the Rangers. Originally, NHTSA requested that only the passenger-side airbag inflator be replaced.
NHTSA says the 2004 Ranger is the only U.S. vehicle the agency is currently aware of that uses a "similar, but slightly different inflator to the vehicle involved in the incident in Malaysia."
A woman driving a Honda City was killed in the Malaysia incident.
Edmunds says: Felker is directing concerned consumers to the Ford recalls Web site, where they can check the VIN number of their vehicle and see if it is included in the recall. "What Ford dealers will replace will depend on the vehicle," she said. "If you get a letter saying your car is recalled, bring it in for service immediately."