Current F-150 Pickups Being Investigated for Seat Belt Fires

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2016 Ford F-150 Front

Pretensioner of the F-150 seat belts could catch fire without cause.

The pretensioner portion of a modern seat belt system helps to keep the occupants of the Ford F-150 safe in the event of an accident by beginning to tighten the belts against the body before an impact or hard braking situation. According to the Detroit News, it seems that this pretensioner in the 2015 through 2018 models could be setting the trucks on fire, leading to a federal investigation into America’s best-selling vehicle and the world’s best-selling truck.

The Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened their investigation into the pretensioner system of the 2015 through 2018 Ford F-150 after receiving five complaints from owners about the seat belts catching fire. In three of these cases, the trucks were destroyed by the fire while the two other fires went out on their own.

In one instance, a deer ran into the side of the truck, causing minor damage and causing the side impact air bags to open. After the truck had been sitting for “five or ten minutes”, the owner noticed smoke and flames around the bottom of the pillar that separates the front and rear doors. A few minutes later, the truck was engulfed in flames and while no one was injured, the F-150 was a total loss.

2016 Ford F-150 Rear

The Next Step

Fortunately, there have not been any injuries reported as a result of this issue, but the agency believes that the fire is beginning in the body pillar between the front and rear doors in the area of the seat belt pretensioner. The investigation will look to see whether this is an issue that needs to be addressed, so if the NHTSA finds that this is likely to happen more going forward, Ford will be forced to recall the trucks with this safety system.

Ford has sold more than two million trucks from the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 model years, so if the feds do require a recall, it could be a costly one.

Photos for Ford Truck Enthusiasts by Patrick Rall

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