WASHINGTON - Ford Motor Co. is recalling 280,000 1998 Ford Contours and Mercury Mystiques because of faulty airbag system wiring.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said airbag sensor wiring insulation becomes brittle and cracks, a condition that can cause the airbag warning light to come on and the airbag to fail to operate.
The agency said the company will install sensors with improved insulation on all of the cars, and will replace airbag diagnostic modules on those with illuminated warning lights.
Ford spokesman Mike Vaughn said the company has received no reports of crashes or injuries related to the problem. He said it came to light because of about 4,000 possibly related warranty claims.
NHTSA, in its monthly compilation of manufacturer safety recalls, listed three others by Ford Motor involving a total of 68,000 vehicles.
They are as follows:
29,000 1999-2000 cars that have seat-belt retractors with an improperly formed part that can cause belt webbing to stick. The agency said the problem would prevent proper use of a belt either by a passenger or for a child safety seat.
Belt retractors are to be replaced on the affected cars, which are 1999 Ford Tauruses and Mercury Sables, 1999-2000 Ford Mustangs and 2000 Lincoln Continentals.
17,000 1999-2000 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks and chassis cabs with 5.4-liter V-8s and manual transmissions because of an accelerator cable end that frays and can cause the throttle to stick. Cables and throttle bodies are to be replaced.
22,000 1996 Ford Contours and Mercury Mystiques because of fuel filler pipe vent hoses that crack and may leak. Dealers are to replace each hose with a revised version more resistant to ozone in the atmosphere.
NHTSA included in its list the following recalls from other manufacturers:
1998-99 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT; AUDI A4, A6, A8
Problem: Tie rod seals leak, allowing moisture and dirt to enter swivel bearing mechanism and to increase wear, which could diminish steering control.
Fix: Replace tie rods.
1999 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA
Problem: B-pillar trim cover does not meet federal standard for head protection.
Fix: Replace trim cover.
1999 SAAB 9-3 WITH MANUAL SEATS
Problem: Easy Entry feature's cable improperly unlocks seat adjustment mechanism, decreasing the protection provided by lap portion of seat belts, which are anchored to the seat assembly.
Fix: Replace cable and spring assembly.