Concerned about how few people are getting their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickup trucks fixed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a second warning Monday urging owners not to drive the vehicles until their Takata air bags are fixed.
“I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these air bags are dangerous,” said Heidi King, deputy administrator of NHTSA.
The second warning came after the two automakers expanded a “do not drive warning” for the trucks in February due to defective air bags manufactured by Takata Corp., a Japanese auto supplier. Takata filed for bankruptcy in June 2017.
The defective air bags are dangerous because propellants inside can deteriorate and explode, shooting metal shrapnel into the pickup truck’s interior.
So far, 15 people in the U.S. have been killed by the defective air bags, NHTSA said.
“If you drive one of these pickup trucks and it hasn’t been fixed yet, you are putting yourself and your loved ones at severe risk,” said David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union. “Please heed this warning. Get your truck fixed as quickly as possible, and stop driving it until it is repaired.”
According to the truck makers, 44 percent of the 33,320 Ford Rangers have been fixed and 55 percent of the 2,205 Mazda B-Series trucks have been repaired. Both trucks were built by Ford.
Friedman said Ford and Mazda need to make more of an effort to get owners to get their trucks fixed.
“If they need to go door-to-door fixing the trucks to prevent a tragedy, that’s exactly what they should do,” Friedman said. “These companies should also offer free loaner cars so that consumers can have their vehicles fixed without unnecessary inconvenience.”
Honda, another automaker that produced vehicle with high risk airbags, has a recall completion rate approaching 75 percent, he said.
Approximately 37 million vehicles equipped with 50 million defective Takata air bags are under recall, NHTSA said.
Pickup truck owners can schedule a free repair or have their vehicles towed for free to a dealership to fix the defective air bags.