Ford Motor is recalling nearly 2 million pickup trucks to fix a seat belt defect that could trigger vehicle fires.
The recall affects the crown jewel of Ford's lineup: the F-150 pickup. The F-series lineup is the best selling vehicle model in the U.S.
The move came after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into the matter in early August after receiving reports of five fires due to the defect, including three that engulfed and destroyed the vehicle.
The company said it had identified at least 23 "reports of smoke or fire" but no injuries or accidents connected to the defect.
The recall covers the 2015-18 model-year Ford F-150 made from March 12, 2014 through Aug. 23, 2018, in Dearborn, Mich., and from Aug. 20, 2014, through Aug. 23, 2018, in Kansas City.
Ford said the defect involves front seat belt pretensioners that "can generate excessive sparks when they deploy."
"When sufficient sparks are present, gases exhausted inside the lower portion of the B-pillar by the pretensioners may ignite," Ford said in a statement. "If this gas ignites, components behind the B-pillar such as insulation and carpet may subsequently catch fire."
The recall is expected to cost Ford about $140 million, according to a public filing.
The defect compounds the company's troubles as it seeks to prove to investors that it has a plan to bolster its financial prospects.
Ford said the recall covers about 1.995 million vehicles in North America, including 1.619 million in the U.S.
Dealers will repair the vehicles for free.