— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a federal investigation into why 2019 Ford Expedition seat belt pretensioners inadvertently deploy without crash impacts.
The Ford Expedition seat belt pretensioner should deploy in a crash, suddenly tightening the seat belt against the occupant to help stabilize the occupant, especially to work in conjunction with the airbags.
NHTSA opened the probe after receiving 10 complaints about 2019 Ford Expedition pretensioners that suddenly tightened the seat belts around the occupant's torso areas.
Some Expedition owners complained about hearing a loud sound similar to an explosion immediately before feeling the seat belts tighten.
Owners of 2019 Ford Expeditions also say smoke filled the cabins as burning odors traveled throughout the Expeditions.
None of the incidents involved a collision, something that should be necessary to deploy seat belt pretensioners.
This 2019 Expedition owner describes what happens.
"On July 24th 2023, at approximately 2:15pm my wife and I were completely stopped at a red traffic light on 66th St N that crosses Ulmerton Rd in Pinellas County Florida. We were talking and listening to the radio, when all of a sudden, a loud shotgun or explosive sound filled the vehicle. I got hit with something in the chest that felt like a punch or a kick, knocking me out of breath. But my wife only heard the extremely loud noise. I was clutching my chest in pain as I thought I was shot."
The Expedition owner continued.
"Upon doing a full inspection, the Auto Nation Ford mechanic determined there was a factory short in the air bag circuit, which caused the seatbelt tensioner charge to explode. They found the location, under the center console & replaced all necessary wiring, sensors, modules, tensioner & seatbelt. I can't imagine what would have happened if we were going fast on an interstate when it happened. Now I get in my 2 Ford vehicles and worry about it happening again. t turned out the kick in the chest was the seatbelt retracting 4 inches pulling me back in the seat."
According to owner complaints, the seat belt pretensioner must be replaced once it has deployed.
CarComplaints.com will update our website with results of the 2019 Ford Expedition seat belt pretensioner investigation which includes more than 20,000 Expeditions.