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Faulty seat belts spur Ford to recall 1.4 million vehicles

SHARE Faulty seat belts spur Ford to recall 1.4 million vehicles

WASHINGTON — Ford Motor Co. announced Friday that it will recall 1.4 million 2001 vehicles because some seat belt buckles may not latch properly.

The recall involves the Ford Crown Victoria, Windstar, Ranger, F-series trucks, Excursion and Expedition; the Mercury Grand Marquis; the Lincoln Town Car and Navigator; and Mazda B-series trucks. It includes all 2001 models built through May 26, when the supplier improved its manufacturing and testing process.

The buckles were made by TRW Inc. The Cleveland-based company announced Friday that it plans to take an undisclosed charge in the second quarter 2001 to cover the recall cost.

Ford said it had two reports of minor injuries because of the problem, but had not confirmed them.

Ford dealers will inspect the front driver side and passenger side seat belt buckles. The front center and all rear seat belt buckles are not affected, the automaker said.

Ann O'Neill, director of vehicle service and programs for Ford Customer Service Division, said the automaker estimates that less than 5 percent of the buckles may not latch if they are not pushed in hard enough.

"But even if a vehicle was to have a defective buckle, the potential for any safety issue is relatively small," she said in a statement.

She said customers can help assure the seat belt latches by pushing the tongue quickly and forcefully into the buckle, then pulling on it to make sure it is secure.

If the release button does not return to its full up position after latching, the buckle may not be fully latched and may not protect the occupant in a crash.

Vehicle owners will be notified of the recall by mail later this month. Testing and replacement of potentially defective buckles will be free to the customer.