After more than 50 years of seatbelt use, car owners sometimes take the webbed protective belts for granted. Since the mid-1960s, seatbelts have been part of the regular safety gear required.
Seatbelts Required For Half-Century
Under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), safety agencies have required seatbelts as parts of the regular safety gear of vehicles. Early seatbelts were all over the place as the industry did not develop belt retractors until the 1970s.
The retractors developed in the 1970s were good, but they did need development as they tended to lock up and hold tightly in uncomfortable positions. It's not that they were bad. On the contrary, they locked up quickly as the inertial pieces of the seatbelt rollers erred on the side of protection. At this time, airbags were not fully developed. They were also not deployed. Airbag deployment took until the mid-1980s until they became part of a vehicle's safety system.
Indeed, airbags are such an integral piece of a vehicle's safety equipment that if they trip in some models in a crash, the information is relayed to the vehicle's manufacturer by a radio system.
Seabelts A Key Safety System
So, seatbelts and airbags are keys to vehicle passenger safety. It is little wonder then that when there is a problem with them that recalls are required.
You would think, though, that with a half-century's development, seatbelts wouldn't be given a second thought. However, sometimes even a venerable system runs into problems.
In this vein, the Ford Motor Co. has run into a problem with the seatbelts in its 2021 F-150 Super Cab pickup.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the passenger-side seatbelts in 16,430 2021 pickups may have been routed incorrectly.
Ford’s Problem Remedy
In its remedy to the problem, the safety agency has advised truck owners to perform a preliminary self-inspection of the front seatbelts. If the passenger-side seatbelt fails the inspection, NHTSA says owners shouldn't use the passenger seat until your dealer performs the repair. In an aside, the safety agency told owners not to drive their vehicles until the repair has been completed.
Dealers will contact owners of affected vehicles at the end of the month about the issue. When scheduled for repair, dealers will inspect the front seatbelts, and if there is a webbing problem, the technician will replace the seatbelt retractor and pretensioner. The repair is free.
For more information, owners can contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332. The Ford identification number of this recall is 21C20. Or, owners can contact NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or the agency's website at www.nhtsa.com. The agency's identification number is 21V653.
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.