WASHINGTON (Reuters). U.S. auto safety regulators on Thursday confirmed a new death linked to an airbag malfunction in a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck and reiterated an urgent call for owners to fix their vehicles.
Chrysler parent Stellantis earlier this month urged owners of 276,000 older cars in the US to immediately stop driving them after three deaths in the past seven months were reported in crashes linked to faulty Takata pumps.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the 2006 Ranger involved in a fatal crash in Florida in June was already under a “do not drive” warning at the time of the incident when the Takata driver’s airbag deployed.
More than 30 deaths worldwide, including at least 23 in the U.S., and hundreds of injuries in vehicles from various automakers since 2009 have been linked to Takata airbags, which can explode, spewing metal shards inside cars and trucks. More than 400 wounded in the US are also reported.
Over the past decade, more than 67 million Takata airbags have been recalled in the United States and more than 100 million worldwide, making it the largest auto safety recall in history.
Ford said that before the latest Takata crash death, it sent more than a hundred recall notices to the owner’s home, along with several text messages, and asked the campaigner to visit the home to try to schedule repairs for the vehicle.
Ford said the completion rate is 97%.
“We urge all affected owners not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford to schedule a free repair,” the spokesperson said.
The automaker previously confirmed two other Takata deaths in older Ranger pickups, including a July 2017 fatality in a crash in West Virginia.
NHTSA says the Takata recall was caused by fuel that could break down after prolonged exposure to fluctuating high temperatures and humidity.
Most of the fatalities occurred in Honda Motor vehicles.
Last year, NHTSA opened an investigation into 30 million additional vehicles made by nearly two dozen automakers that have potentially defective Takata compressors.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Bernadette Baum)