Ford Fiesta recall targets side air bag deployment

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2011 Ford Fiesta hatchback

2011 Ford Fiesta hatchback. Image: Bull-Doser/Wikimedia Commons

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a Ford Fiesta recall because the passenger side curtain airbag will not deploy in some of the cars if there is no passenger in the front. That creates dangers for passengers in the rear passenger seat, where children often sit.

Fiesta recall not over a defect

According to the NHTSA, the recall has been issued not because of a defect, but because the car-buying public was not informed about how the side curtain air bag was meant to deploy. The system is programmed so that the passenger air bag will not deploy in an accident if nobody is seated on the passenger side. That is intended to spare the deployment of an unnecessary safety device.

Since the safety system in these Fiesta is working the way it was programmed to work, and with the automaker citing only that it has not properly informed owners of its proper usage, a recall may seem excessive. Couldn’t the automaker simply educate owners of the proper usage?

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Protecting occupants in a crash

The NHTSA says that the problem poses risks for back seat passengers, however, even though the system is working correctly. The federal regulator says that Ford is in violation of Federal Vehicle Motor Safety Standards No. 208, which has to do with protecting occupants in a crash.

The non-deployment of the passenger side curtain airbag creates hazards for anyone in the rear passenger seat because they will not be protected from flying glass and debris coming from the windshield area. And of course the rear passenger side is where most parents will place their child while traveling, in an approved car seat.

Nearly 155,000 cars targeted in the U.S.

The recall targets Fiesta hatchbacks and sedans from the model years 2011, 2012 and 2013 that were built between November 3rd 2009 and September 21st 2012. In all, 154,604 vehicles are included in the action in the U.S.

As a fix, the automaker says it will reprogram the safety restraint system controls, allowing the passenger side curtain airbag to deploy in a crash, regardless of whether the passenger seat in the front is occupied or not. That way, passengers in the back seat will have some protection from flying debris in a crash situation.

Ford says it will notify the affected owners soon. At that point, they can take their Fiesta to an authorized Ford dealer, such as Courtesy Ford in Brooklyn, CT. There, authorized service techs will reprogram the system, making it safer for rear-seated passengers in the event of a crash.

Ford’s recall line is 1-866-436-7332. The recall campaign number is 12C26.


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