Ford recalls thousands of Fiesta subcompacts for airbag issue

DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. is recalling certain Fiesta subcompact cars from the 2011 to 2013 model years to make changes to their side-impact airbag system.

The car maker said in vehicles it built from Nov. 3, 2009 through Sept. 21, 2012, the passenger side curtain air bag will not inflate during a side-impact crash when the front passenger seat is empty.

In a document filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Ford said the current airbag setup meets federal safety standards, "but the right rear seating position may not have coverage of the side air curtain in certain crashes."

The recall includes 154,604 cars.

Technically, the problem lies in the cars' owner manuals, which do not accurately explain how the bags work.

However, since suppressing the side curtain bag increases the risk of injury to rear seat passengers, the company said it will reprogram the vehicle's software free of charge so that it no longer suppresses the curtain air bag when the front passenger seat is empty. Doing so will also bring the airbag's function in line with the description in the owner's manual.

The recall is expected to begin soon. Owners may contact Ford at 866-436-7332.

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