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Ford recalls 1.4 million cars for possible seat belt defect

DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) -- Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 1.4 million 2001 Ford, Mercury, Lincoln and Mazda cars and trucks for inspection of the safety belt buckles, the company announced, saying some of the buckles may not latch properly.

The company blamed the problem on "outside supplier manufacturing issues," and said any potential danger was small.

"We estimate a defect rate among the recall population of less than 5 percent," said Anne O'Neill, with Ford's customer service division. She said the problem can be avoided if customers push the tongue into the buckle forcefully, making sure the seat belt release returns to its "full-up position" upon latching.

The seat belts for the front driver side and front passenger side are affected by the possible defect, the company said.

The recall affects the 2001 Ford Crown Victoria, Windstar, Ranger, F-Series, Excursion and Expedition; the Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car and Navigator; and the Mazda B-Series truck.

Owners will be notified of the recall by mail, the company said, and can return the car to a dealer to have the buckles tested at no charge. Buckles identified as defective will be replaced.

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