When the government established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration half-a-century ago, the agency had multiple roles. Its primary role was the enforcement of automotive safety standards. A secondary role was the establishment of those standards, plus their expansion, as needed.
Early FMVSS Rules Modest
In this role, the agency's task was as keeper of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). At the start, the FMVSS was a relatively modest grouping of standards. However, as the automotive safety movement grew in the 1960s, the FMVSS became rather substantial.
Indeed, there are now more than 76 standards, divided into five categories. The categories include the 100-series (FMVSS 1XX), the 200-series (FMVSS 2XX), the FMVSS 300-series (FMVSS 3XX), the FMVSS 400- series (FMVSS 4XX), and FMVSS 500-series.
Specifically, the 100-series covers crash avoidance. The 200-series covers crashworthiness. The 300-series covers post-crash survivability. The last two series are brief (400 and 500) cover miscellaneous items.
The agency adopted its first regulation in 1967. It was FMVSS 209. It remains in effect today, though the safety agency has updated it regularly. The standard sets up requirements for vehicle seatbelts.
Problem With Side Airbag Weld Studs
With that said, the Ford Motor Co. has recalled a number of its SUVs to fix a problem with the attachment of side airbag weld studs. The studs are improperly attached and could fail during a crash. Stud failure increases the risk of injury during a crash, according to the NHTSA.
The vehicles affected by the recall are 2021 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators. The vehicles are corporate twins.
The agency says that if the side airbag attachment studs fail during the deployment of the airbags, the safety system will not deploy properly. The NHTSA labels this a failure to meet FMVSS 214, the side impact protection rule.
To remedy this problem, dealers will check and replace the side airbag assemblies of affected vehicles. The repair is free. The agency has begun notifying owners of the impacted vehicles. According to the NHTSA website, 592 2021 SUVs are affected by this recall.
Ford, NHTSA Contact Nunbers Listed
For more information, owners can contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332. The Ford reference number for this recall is 21C19. Owners can contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. Or they can go to the agency website at www.nhtsa.gov. The agency's recall number for this is 21V652.
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.