Ford FINALLY Expands F150 Airbag Recall, But Where’s The Fine?
In February, Ford announced an F150 recall pertaining to spontaneously exploding airbags. This recall was significant because:
- NHTSA instructed Ford to recall approximately 1.5 million trucks for this problem
- Ford decided to ignore the government and recall just 150k trucks instead
- Now, two months later, Ford has finally followed NHTSA instructions and recalled 1.5 million F150s
Of course, I cried foul when Ford ignored the government recall recommendation. How could Ford blatantly disregard NHTSA safety instructions? What’s more, how could Ford ignore a government safety mandate without risking a media firestorm and a massive NHTSA fine?
Yet Ford Motor Company somehow managed to ignore a NHTSA two months ago – and then flip-flop – without any sort of outcry. Be it political influence or just plain ignorance, something stinks at NHTSA.
NHTSA Credibility In Shambles
Some people may believe that my outrage about this incident is somehow related to the way NHTSA treated Toyota this time last year – that I’m only upset because NHTSA cracked down on Toyota…but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I believe that NHTSA safety recall recommendations should always be followed. If automakers are allowed to ignore recall recommendations or pick and choose implementation, we all lose because our government is an extension of us.
Besides, all automakers are given a chance to convince NHTSA to change a recall recommendation. An automaker has a right to ‘state their case’ about a potential recall before it’s announced to the public. If Ford wasn’t able to convince NHTSA to shrink the size of the recall prior to the public announcement, they should have accepted NHTSA’s ruling, taken their lumps for a massive F150 recall, and then move on.
Instead, Ford decided to ignore NHTSA.
Recalls Aren’t Required – At Least Not Initially
Technically, NHTSA recall suggestions don’t have to be followed – at least not immediately. The law states that an automaker has the right to fight a recall by presenting their case in a public hearing. If, after the public hearing NHTSA’s suggestions are still valid, the recall then becomes officially mandated.
For obvious reasons (aka media circus), very few automakers choose to have their recall debated in a public hearing. It’s incredibly rare, in fact.
However, Ford Motor Company seems to have found some sort of loophole that allowed them to lessen the impact of their recall announcement without getting up in front of Congress. Ford’s “trick” was to initially disagree with the recommendation before later acquiescing. The advantage? Announcing a recall in two parts makes for a more favorable news cycle.
My problem is, I want automakers to follow NHTSA rules and recommendations religiously because I believe that’s the best policy for the safety of our nation. If we allow automakers to pick and choose how to implement recalls – even if only for a few weeks while they try to manipulate media coverage – we’re taking the risk that someone could get hurt.
So NHTSA officials, I have one question: Where’s the fine?
Filed Under: Auto News