Over the last 20 years, Ford Ranger pickup truck rollovers have been the center of legal disputes for years. Many lawsuits have been filed concerning the Ford Ranger Pickup Truck’s high rollover propensity, excessive amount of roof crush to the roof pillars or roof supports, significant excessive seatbelt slack (looseness) problems with the shoulder belt, suspension problems contributing to steering and handling, poor directional control due to inadequate/ malfunctioning shock absorbers and too high of center of gravity contributing to the high propensity to rollover.
FORD RANGER ROLLOVER & SUSPENSION PROBLEMS
The original Ford Ranger Pickup was designed to replace the Ford Courier pickup, which was a downsized pickup manufactured by Mazda and sold in this country with a Ford label. Ford’s decision to replace the Courier was based on the anticipated CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) rulemaking that would have excluded domestically imported vehicles from industry calculations. Most Ford Ranger Pickups have a Twin I-Beam and Twin Traction Beam suspension system used since the early 1970’s. This suspension system has been a noted problem in many rollover cases, due to the fact that the Twin I-Beam can actually enhance the jacking or lifting during sideway movement during a hard braking, steering/avoidance maneuver. This jacking or lifting increases the height of the center of gravity, helping to encourage a rollover. The rollover is just the beginning. When the pick-up rolls onto its roof, often the weak roof pillars collapse, trapping or crushing down onto the seated upright occupants with CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES. The force of the vertical compression onto the occupants can result in severe head/brain damage, spinal cord damage and bursting fractures to the spinal cord, causing quadriplegia, paraplegia, closed head injuries and even death.
FORD RANGER ROLLOVER & ROOF CRUSH & PILLAR COLLAPSE
The roof supports were not designed to act as a roll bar, as the industry states that rollovers are not foreseeable events, and are not capable of being tested and reproduced in a controlled testing environment. If one examines the inside of such roof supports, one find them hollow, with made up of nothing but folded/ corrugated light gauge metal – not designed to withstand the force of a rollover, EVEN THOUGH FORD KNEW BY THEIR OWN TESTS THAT THESE RANGER PICKUPS HAD A HIGH PROPENSITY TO ROLL AND THAT THESE ROOF WILL COLLAPSE IN MANY FORD RANGER ROLLOVERS !!!
In a Ford Ranger rollover accident or other light truck rollovers, the roof can crush into the occupant space in several different ways. Matchboxing, pillar collapse and header collapse are the most common ways that this occurs. In most cases, a stronger roof support system would have prevented most of the serious neck, head and spinal injuries. To the untrained observer, roof pillars of Ford Ranger appear solid and sturdy, especially strong enough to withstand a roof crush in a rollover. The surprises come through when one looks at a cross-section of the pillar. Most are nothing more than folded/molded corrugated sheet metal, being hollow inside. Therefore, when impact occurs the metal folds over into the empty inner space allowing more folding or crushing to continue. Tests show that if the inner hollow part of the roof pillars are either filled with a high density foam or honey combed structure, then roof crush is at a minimal, thus saving lives!! In the picture of the Ford Ranger rollover above, the roof pillars, roof supports and roof pillars failed to withstand the weight of the vehicle. When the roof invades the occupant space, the occupants will usually sustain neck, shoulder and head injuries from the Pathfinder’s roof collapse and failure. For more information about (Rollovers / Roof Crush)
FORD RANGER PICKUP ROLLOVER – SEATBELT INJURIES
The seat belt system in the Ranger for the two outboard seating positions (driver & passenger) consists of a 3-point belt with a lap and attached shoulder restraint and the middle seating position having only a lap belt. In some older models the shoulder belt has what is known a comfort feature or window shade retractor device that allows for slack to be introduced into the system as one moves about in the vehicle. The problem results when excessive slack in the shoulder or lap belt causes serious injuries in the case of a frontal collision or a rollover. Good engineering practice teaches that a safety belt should be so designed and positioned that it allows the body to move forward and ride down the deceleration of the impact in order to protect it from moving forward and possibly striking an unfriendly object or structure inside the vehicle. See (Seatbelt Defects & Failures During Rollover Accidents)
In 1979, NHTSA proposed an outright ban to these devices. The U.S. auto makers, including Ford, fought the restrictions but finally agreed to voluntarily limit the amount of slack and to post warnings in new vehicles, instead of fixing the problem! In one such case in Texas, a young boy properly seated and belted in the front seat of the Ford Ranger Pickup Truck was rendered a quadriplegic when, during a frontal collision, his head impacted the dash, due, in part, to too much slack in the seat belt system. The Ford Ranger Pickup trucks of the 1990’s are not equipped with this dangerous slack producing belt system. Middle Seating Position Lap belt can also be a killer in frontal accidents in that it allows the occupant (usually a child) to be severely whipped or jack-knifed in the sudden deceleration of a frontal collision. Many times severe abdominal injuries, spinal cord and head injuries can result from the upper torso being violently thrust forward instead of restrained with a shoulder belt. THIS WAS WELL KNOWN TO FORD even as early as 1967.