Report: Ford Dealers Faked Some Takata Airbag Repairs

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The Detroit Free Press this weekend revealed a bombshell report alleging that Ford “is working to re-inspect greater than a quarter-million automobiles after the corporate found flawed work and false billing by dealership technicians through the required substitute of harmful Takata air luggage.”

The Free Press, citing “inner firm paperwork, dealership memos, federal regulatory filings, and court docket papers,” studies that Ford has “fined some dealerships whose restore techs billed the automaker for changing Takata airbags regardless of putting in the units incorrectly or not doing the work in any respect.”

A lot of what the Free Press reported was already publicly recognized. Its primary conclusions are correct, and Ford doesn’t dispute them. However the story is barely much less alarming than it first appears after deeper examination.

The Free Press report combines two points.

One, public since a recall issued final spring, entails about 230,000 2004-2006 Ford Ranger pickups that will have had a recall restore carried out incorrectly.

The opposite entails 40,000 or fewer automobiles. On these, Ford needs to examine the work of technicians who might have misled the corporate prior to now.

Background: Historical past’s Largest Recall

The Takata airbag recall impacts “tens of tens of millions of automobiles bought below not less than 34 model names on not less than 5 continents. Almost each automaker that sells automobiles within the U.S. has automobiles affected by the Takata recall.”

An airbag inflator is a small steel capsule containing chemical substances that mix to create a quickly increasing gasoline. In an accident, the inflator is meant to squirt that gasoline out of a nozzle, rapidly inflating a folded airbag to cushion occupants from hitting collapsing automotive elements.

Some inflators produced by the now-defunct Takata firm, nonetheless, can explode as a substitute. Their capsule typically bursts below the sudden stress of the chemical response. That may ship scorching steel fragments flying into the cabin like shrapnel. The chemical substances contained in the units develop extra unstable with age, which means the danger grows over time.

Takata airbag inflators have reportedly claimed not less than 32 lives worldwide, 23 within the U.S.

BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Basic Motors, Honda, and Toyota have all issued “don’t drive orders” prior to now two years, asking drivers to park older automobiles instantly and never drive them in any respect till sellers can substitute their inflators.

The Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 67 million automobiles on American roads carried the faulty inflators after they had been constructed. As of late 2022, the company reported that about 50 million of them have been repaired or faraway from use.

Some Replacements Put in Backwards

Final spring, Ford recalled 230,000 Ranger pickups a second time over the Takata concern. The corporate had changed Takata inflators within the vehicles with non-Takata-built inflators. However Ford discovered that some technicians might have put in them backward. A reversed installer would nonetheless inflate an airbag, Ford says, however may not inflate it correctly.

So, the corporate organized to examine the substitute inflators and, if vital, reinstall them within the right orientation.

That recall, already revealed final 12 months, makes up the majority of the automobiles within the Free Press report. These automobiles have had their inflators changed and are usually not vulnerable to a Takata airbag rupture. However, some substitute inflators could also be put in backward, which might preserve them from performing correctly.

Ford Audits Some Dealerships’ Work After Previous Pretend Repairs

Ford plans to examine about 40,000 different automobiles to make sure that technicians substitute airbag inflators after they say they did.

The Free Press studies that, since 2020, Ford has required some sellers to audit security repairs. That 12 months, the corporate discovered that “some technicians failed to finish door latch recall work for which they billed the automaker.” The corporate has not publicly recognized the dealerships. However, since that point, it has routinely audited their work.

Ford plans to re-inspect about 40,000 automobiles that had Takata inflators changed by these dealerships. 

“Nobody — not the drivers, Ford or the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration — is aware of precisely which automobiles weren’t repaired accurately,” the Free Press Experiences. However Ford says it does know which automobiles had been repaired by dealerships whose work the corporate audits.

Ford says it has, so far, inspected about 11% of the 40,000 automobiles in query. About 1.5% of that 11% have had incorrect or unrepaired inflators. These automobiles could also be vulnerable to a Takata airbag rupture.

Observe: This text has been up to date for accuracy since its unique posting.

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