WASHINGTON — U.S. auto safety regulators issued an urgent warning Thursday for the public to check for open recalls after confirming a death tied to a Takata airbag inflator in a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup.
NHTSA said the driver's side airbag inflator ruptured in the vehicle, which was already under a "do not drive" warning issued in 2018.
Ford said it sent out more than 100 notices, including multiple text messages, prior to the tragic accident, which killed the 23-year-old male driver of the Ford Ranger in a crash near Pensacola, Fla. The automaker also had a canvasser visit the home to schedule a recall repair for the vehicle.
“A person at the home advised the canvasser that they would schedule an appointment for the repair themselves,” Ford spokesman Said Deep told Automotive News.
“As part of this recall, Ford has done extraordinary outreach to these 2006 Ranger customers with mailings, phone call, mobile repairs and visiting homes of customers across the country to get air bags replaced,” he explained. “We have a 97 percent completion on this recall. We are urging all remaining affected owners not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford to schedule a free repair.”
NHTSA has confirmed 22 people in the U.S. have been killed by defective Takata airbag inflators, with 400 people alleging injuries.
NHTSA said it is aware of suspected inflator ruptures in vehicles from other automakers that are potentially linked to faulty Takata airbags. The agency had no further comment at this time.
This month, the U.S. arm of Stellantis issued a do not drive warning for roughly 276,000 older vehicles that are subject to Takata airbag recalls. The vehicles are 2005-10 Dodge Magnums, Chargers and Challengers, and Chrysler 300s.
Airbags exploded in two incidents involving 2010 Chargers, killing two people. A third death is suspected, Stellantis said.