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NHTSA orders Ford to recall 3 million vehicles over air bags

Ford Motor must recall 3 million vehicles with possibly defective driver-side Takata air bags, the U.S. auto safety regulator said on Tuesday, turning down a bid by the second-largest U.S. automaker to avoid a recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was denying petitions filed by Ford and Mazda Motor in 2017 seeking to avoid recalling vehicles with possibly dangerous inflators. The decision also will require Mazda to recall and repair driver air bags in approximately 5,800 vehicles. The recalls will cover various vehicles from 2006 through 2012 model years.

The defect, which results in rare instances to air bag inflators rupturing and sending possibly deadly metal fragments flying – especially after long-term exposure to high humidity – led to the largest automotive recall in U.S. history of more than 67 million inflators. Globally, about 100 million inflators installed by 19 major automakers have been recalled.

The NHTSA said the “evidence makes clear that these inflators pose a significant safety risk”.

Previously this month, the auto safety agency said at least 17 million vehicles with Takata air bags remain unrepaired.

Takata inflators have resulted in the deaths of at least 27 people globally and 18 in the United States, and more than 400 reported injuries,

Ford said on Tuesday that the automobiles the NHTSA was ordering to be recalled were subject to an earlier Takata recall for the passenger-side airbag, but did not discuss further.

The recall will apply to various Ford Ranger, Fusion, Edge, Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln MKX vehicles, together with Mazda 2007–2009 model year B-Series vehicles. The Mazda vehicles were designed by Ford, constructed on the same platform, and used the same air bag inflators as the Ranger trucks.

The regulator said Ford must within 30 days “submit to NHTSA a proposed schedule for the notification of vehicle owners and the launch of a remedy”.

Two people died in Takata air bag ruptures in previously recalled 2006 Ford Ranger vehicles with the latest death in 2017.

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