Ford Motor Co. is warning owners of nearly 3,000 older Ranger pickup trucks not to drive them after learning that a driver was killed last year when a defective air bag made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. ruptured in a crash.
Ford said the death happened on July 1 in West Virginia and was reported to the auto maker on Dec. 22. Ford inspectors confirmed days later that a faulty Takata air bag inflater ruptured, “resulting in a driver fatality,” the company said in a statement.
The fatality brings the death toll from defective Takata air bags to 15 in the U.S. and 21 globally, along with hundreds of injuries. Defective inflaters cause the air bags to rupture with too much force, spraying shrapnel inside the vehicle.
The faulty part has triggered the largest recall in history, covering 46 million vehicles in the U.S. and millions more globally. Less than half of the affected U.S. vehicles have been fixed, according to federal data.
The West Virginia death is the latest known fatality, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and underscores the urgency facing multiple auto makers and safety regulators as they work to get the potentially deadly air bags off the road.
Ford is urging owners of certain model-year 2006 Rangers to contact their dealers to have their trucks repaired at their homes or towed into a dealership. The company is offering free loaners while the work is done.
The auto maker said the death was the second reported fatality involving a Ford vehicle linked to a Takata inflater rupture. A South Carolina man was killed in a Ranger in January 2016.