Own a 2015-18 F-150? You’ll want to read this.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reportedly opened an investigation regarding fire complaints in the 2015-18 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck. However, the source of these reported fires is not the typical culprit, the engine, but rather the truck’s seat belts. You read that right.
Ford has already announced it is fully cooperating with the government’s investigation of some 2 million potentially affected trucks. We take “the safety of our customers very seriously,” said a Ford spokeswoman. “We are investigating the matter and will cooperate with the agency, as we always do.”
It’s important to note that a recall has not been announced yet. For now, it’s purely an investigation that all began when the NHTSA received five complaints about seat belt pretensioners made from ZF-TRW or Takata were activated. However, three of those trucks were destroyed by the fires. The remaining two went out on their own. But the big question is this: what started these fires? The NHTSA believes they began in a support pillar housing the seat belt. There’s a device there that uses an explosive charge to tighten the belts in order to provide additional protection in a crash, but this still needs confirmation.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities. One F-150 owner from Grand Rapids, Michigan told the NHTSA about an instance when a deer ran into the driver’s side of his truck, which caused some minor damage, and the side airbags inflated. However, after several minutes someone noticed a fire on the bottom of the post between the front and rear doors, specifically where the seat belts are located.
“The passenger went to remove a purse from the back passenger side seat and noticed a fire on the bottom of the post between the front and rear door where the seat belt restraint is located,” the owner wrote. “The truck went up in complete flames in a matter of minutes and is a complete loss.” A Wisconsin police officer experienced a similar incident. “B-pillar started on fire, melting seat belt, most of B-pillar and parts of curtain and side airbags. Fire put itself out,” he wrote.