Defective Air Bag Recalls
Takata Recall Due to Air Bag Explosion Risk
As of May 4, 2016, Takata has issued 5 recalls due to the risk of an air bag exploding and shooting shrapnel into a driver and passengers. The five recalls were “based on prioritization of risk, determined by the age of the inflators and exposure to high humidity and fluctuating high temperatures that accelerate the degradation of the chemical propellant,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA has confirmed the cause of the explosions: “A combination of time, environmental moisture and fluctuating high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag and into the vehicle occupants” (NHTSA).
“The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding and accelerating the recall of Takata air bag inflators. The decision follows the agency’s confirmation of the root cause behind the inflators’ propensity to rupture. Ruptures of the Takata inflators have been tied to ten deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States. Under the Amended Consent Order issued to Takata this week, the company is required to make a series of safety defect decisions that will support vehicle manufacturer recall campaigns of an additional estimated 35-40 million inflators, adding to the already 28.8 million inflators previously recalled. These expansions are planned to take place in phases between May 2016 and December 2019. The expansions mean that all Takata ammonium nitrate-based propellant driver and passenger frontal air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent, also known as a desiccant, will be recalled” (May 4, 2016, U.S. DOT update).
Possible Late Deployment
Volvo is recalling 5,002 MY 2008 XC70 passenger vehicles. Two deviations have been found in the supplemental restraint system (SRS) control unit software. These deviations may result in a late deployment of the inflatable curtain (IC) and side impact protection system (SIPS) in certain side impact crash situations. In addition, this software error may also cause the ‘SRS Airbag – Service Urgent’ message and SRS warning light to illuminate. Late deployment of the IC and SIPS in certain side impact crash situations could increase the risk of injury to the vehicle occupant. Dealers will perform a software upgrade of the SRS control unit.
Chevrolet and Pontiac SUV
GM is recalling 437 MY 2007 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent sport utility vehicles for failing to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.” In these vehicles, the right front passenger seat is built with a passenger sensing system. When tested with a representative unrestrained small adult, the system is required to turn the right front passenger’s frontal airbag on. An error in the seat sensor calibration can cause it to fail this test. In addition, this condition can prevent it from turning off when the seat is occupied by a small child. Whenever the front passenger seat is occupied, the driver should always check the indicator to see if it is on or off. If it is not correct for the situation, the passenger should be moved to a different seat. This error can increase the risk of injury to a seat occupant during certain crash conditions. Dealers will reprogram the seat’s electronic control unit.
Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger
DaimlerChrysler is recalling 798 MY 2007-2008 Sebring and MY 2008 Dodge Avenger vehicles. The front seat track position sensors utilized for the air bag system may not function properly. This could increase the risk of injury to front seat occupants during certain crash conditions. Dealers will inspect the front seat track position sensors and replace them.
Corrosion and Decreased Protection
DaimlerChrysler is recalling 270,958 MY 2005 Town and Country and Dodge Caravan minivans originally sold in or currently registered in the 27 states plus the District of Columbia that use greater amounts of salt for winter road deicing. The up-front (UF) sensors that contain brass bushings installed in these vehicles may corrode and crack allowing water to enter the sensor. These sensors provide enhanced performance in certain types of frontal crashes. In one of these crashes, with one or both of the vehicle’s UF sensors inoperative, the occupants will not benefit from the enhanced protection that these sensors would provide. For vehicles registered in the recall states, dealers will replace the original UF sensors with ones with greater corrosion resistance. Vehicles registered in other states will obtain a lifetime free replacement of any UF sensor that fails. The campaign is expected to begin during July 2007. DaimlerChrysler has not decided that this is a defect related to motor vehicle safety. However, it has informed NHTSA that it will provide the modifications described above.
BMW is recalling 225 MY 2007 6-Series passenger vehicles for failing to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, ‘Occupant Crash Protection.’ The front passenger seat has a sensing system that detects if the seat is occupied. This sensing is programmed to detect if the seat is occupied by a small adult or certain child restraint seats. Placing certain child seats on the front passenger seat is designed to result in automatic deactivation. In some cases, the sensing system may misinterpret a properly seated small adult as one of these specific child seats, resulting in deactivation of the front passenger air bag when it might be beneficial for the adult, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. Dealers will replace the front passenger seat sensor.
Nissan Versa Hatchback
Nissan is recalling 16,309 MY 2007 Versa hatchback model vehicles. The terminals for the passenger side seat belt tension sensor harness connector may have been damaged during the manufacturing process. This could result in a loss of electrical continuity causing the occupant detection system to become inoperative. If this occurs, the warning light will come on and the passenger side frontal bag will be suppressed. Dealers will replace the connector for the seat belt tension sensor harness free of charge.
Subaru Forester and Impreza
Subaru is recalling 7,004 MY 2006 Forester and Impreza vehicles. The wiring harness for the air bag occupant detection system in the front passenger seat may have been pinched during production. Pinching of the wiring harness between the floor crossmember and the seat mounting bracket could result in an electrical short. This could cause the product to become disabled, and it may not deploy in the event of a crash increasing the risk of injury to the seat occupant. Also, an electrical short circuit could cause a fire. Dealers will inspect to see if the wiring had been incorrectly routed under the seat bracket. If so, the dealer will repair any damaged wiring, reroute and secure the wiring harness in the correct location, and re-calibrate the occupant detection system as necessary.
Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia
GM is recalling 13,032 MY 2007 Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia vehicles. The sensing and diagnostic module (SDM), which controls the function of front air bags, may not operate properly. As a result, they may fail to deploy in a frontal crash. Also, the warning lamp on the instrument panel may fail to provide warning that the system is inoperative. In the event of a crash, this condition could increase the risk of injury to occupants in the front seat. Dealers will reprogram the SDM computer module. This recall began on February 22, 2007.