Few things are more terrifying on the highway than your car or truck catching fire. When the problem is due to a defect, millions of drivers and passengers can be at risk.

In September, the Ford Motor Company recalled 2 million of its popular F-150 pickup trucks following complaints a seat belt mechanism could cause fires.

A Reuters report noted the country’s second-largest automaker received 17 reports of smoke or fire in the United States and six in Canadian vehicles before the recall. It said it was not aware of any injuries.

The problem was traced to a device called a pretensioner. During a crash, the pretensioner uses an explosive charge to lock the seat belt in place. The company said the device might be generating excessive sparks and posing a fire risk

Ford will fix the problem for free. It revealed the recall would cost about $140 million.

The recall covered 2015-2018 Ford F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab vehicles in North America for both driver and front passenger seat-belt pretensioners. The recall impacted 1.62 million U.S. vehicles, 340,000 trucks in Canada and 37,000 in Mexico.

Although no injuries were reported, the defect may cause deaths or serious injuries. The recall in September was not the first this year involving F-150s, Ford’s most popular vehicles.

In April, Ford issued two safety recalls for nearly 350,000 new F-150 pickup trucks as well as Ford Expedition SUVs over a transmission issue that could allow the vehicles to slip out of gear, even when they are in park mode.

The safety recalls impacted model year 2018 Ford F-150, Expeditions, F-650 and F-750 vehicles with 6-speed and 10-speed automatic transmissions. Ford said it was aware of at least one reported accident and injury related to this defect.

The April recall affected 347,425 vehicles in North America, including 292,909 in the United States, 51,742 in Canada, and 2,774 in Mexico.

The issue was traced to a gear shift cable clip. Ford reported an issue with a clip that locks the gearshift cable on some vehicles. Clips that became dislodged may allow the transmission to be in a different gear state from the gearshift position selected by the driver.

An unsuspecting driver could put the shifter in park and remove the ignition key when the transmission gear is not in park. If the parking brake isn’t applied the vehicle could move when in park.

In recent years, the auto industry has been hit by numerous recalls linked to dangerous defects. Toyota cars were recalled over sudden acceleration and GM issued a recall over an ignition switch that could shut off the engine of smaller cars and fail to inflate the airbag. The GM defect alone was linked to more than 100 deaths.

More than 41 million vehicles with dangerous Takata airbags were recalled, but only half of those airbags were replaced as of earlier this year.

If you or a family member has been hurt by a defective car, please call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.