Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
More 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks are now under a rare stop-driving recall, with federal regulators urging owners to tow the vehicles to dealers to have Takata airbag inflators replaced.
The Monday advisory raises the number of 2006 Rangers involved to 30,603 in the U.S., says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Mazda is expanding its advisory to include 1,955 B-Series pickup trucks from model year 2006, up from the original 160, a Mazda spokeswoman said in an email.
NHTSA said in a statement that the automakers will tow the small pickups to local dealers and replace the parts, all free of charge. Ford said in a statement that its dealers will provide a free interim loaner if needed.
So far, 15 people have been killed by exploding Takata airbags in the U.S., NHTSA says. The recall is one of the biggest and most complex in U.S. history, involving 37 million vehicles across multiple models and years.
This is the second stop-driving notice for these pickups from the 2006 model year. On Jan. 11, NHTSA and Ford first told owners of about 3,000 Rangers from the 2006 model year to stop driving after a July 2017 death blamed on a Takata airbag, the second fatality in a 2006 Ranger.
David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, says the recall expansions show that automakers need to be more transparent about safety issues.
“Automakers need to stop waiting till people get hurt or killed to act more aggressively when it comes to airbag inflators we already know are deadly,” Friedman says. “Ford should make their testing data public, so consumers can make informed decisions about their own safety, and NHTSA should do the same for all other vehicles with Takata airbags.”
Friedman noted that do-not-drive orders are very rarely issued, and they only occur when the risk is believed to be extreme.
Why did Ford expand the number of trucks involved, but not to all of the Rangers produced for the 2006 model year? Because when Ford issued the initial do-not-drive order in January, its investigation into the July 2017 death wasn't complete, according to company spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt. The expansion of the order on Monday came after the automaker received additional data indicating an elevated risk in these 30,000 trucks.
"We make decisions on safety actions based on data," Weigandt says. "We haven't found the same kind of data on other vehicles."
In a statement to Consumer Reports, NHTSA said it takes a proactive approach to safety and continues to be in close communication with Ford, Mazda, and Takata regarding these pickup trucks. NHTSA said it has asked all parties to look for defects in other model years, too.
The Rangers in this do-not-drive order were built at Twin Cities Assembly Plant from Aug. 10, 2005, to Dec. 15, 2005, and from Aug. 5, 2005, to Nov. 4, 2005, says Ford, adding that it's not aware of any injuries or fatalities involved in these additional trucks.
All Ford Rangers from the 2004 through 2006 model years built in North America also are included in the Takata recall, for driver- and passenger-side frontal airbag inflators. Certain Rangers from the 2007 through 2011 model years are also covered by the Takata recalls.
You can check whether there are any outstanding recalls on your car by going to nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering your vehicle identification number (VIN). You'll find the VIN on car registration forms, behind the lower portion of the windshield on the driver’s side, or on a label located on the driver’s doorjamb.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.