The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced this morning that the Ford Motor Company is recalling 154,604 model year 2011, 2012, and 2013 Fiesta subcompacts. The vehicles affected by the recall are those that were manufactured between November 3, 2009 and September 21, 2012. According to the NHTSA press release, the Fiesta’s passenger-side airbags will not deploy unless the vehicle detects a passenger in the front seat. This creates a danger to any back seat passenger on the same side who will therefore not have the protection of an airbag during a side impact collision.

The NHTSA reports that this issue is misrepresented in the Fiesta’s owner’s manual and also is not in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.” As a result, Ford is recalling the vehicles and reprogramming their software to ensure that the passenger-side airbag will deploy whether or not anyone is in the front seat. As always, the automaker will notify owners if their vehicle is one of those affected by the recall, and the repairs will be offered free of charge at local Ford dealerships.

In similar news, it was recently discovered that tens of thousands of drivers might currently be operating vehicles equipped with counterfeit airbags. The NHTSA issued a consumer safety advisory last week after coming across a number of airbags during testing that had either failed to deploy or deployed and shot flames and metal fragments in the process. Though not much is known yet about the counterfeit airbags, they are thought to have been made in mainland China and to bear near perfect replicas of automakers’ official logos. According to the NHTSA advisory, vehicles with airbags that have deployed in the last three years and were since replaced by a non-dealer repair shop are most at risk of having the counterfeits.

If you are unaware of whether your car’s airbags have been replaced, visit the NHTSA’s website to see if your vehicle is one for which counterfeit airbags are available. If your car is on the list, check its Carfax report for signs of airbag deployment and also examine its title, especially if you recently bought the car used. Cars with rebuilt or reconstructed titles or that have been branded salvage can have incomplete histories and should be examined by a trained mechanic.

This post was contributed by Brittany Larson on behalf of the Welborne Motor Company.