NHTSA Analyzing 12.3M Non-Takata Airbags Due to Possible Defect

ZF-TRW produced airbags for six automakers.

by on Apr.24, 2019

The 2011–13 Kia Optima has already been recalled once for an airbag problem.

As U.S. auto safety regulators are attempting to wind down the ongoing Takata airbag debacle, they are now investigating nearly 12.3 million vehicles with airbags that may not inflate during a collision.

The vehicles are equipped with airbags produced by ZF-TRW, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and could be responsible for as many as eight fatalities. The airbags do not inflate due to faulty control units.

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The investigation involves 2010-2019 model year vehicles produced by Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota.

The control units may fail due to unwanted electrical signals produced by the crash itself that can disable an airbag control circuit housed in the passenger compartment, according to NHTSA documents. The electrical signals can damage the control circuit.

(Takata airbag kills 16th person in the U.S. Click Here for the story.)

NHTSA upgraded the probe from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis, which is a step closer toward seeking recalls, AP reported. Thus far, only Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler have issued recalls in the case.

Four deaths attributed to the problem were reported in Hyundai and Kia vehicles and three others occured in Fiat Chrysler vehicles. The query was upgraded to an analysis after investigators found two recent serious crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas. One person was killed. Toyota said it’s cooperating in the probe, doing its own investigation and will take “any appropriate action.”

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit consumer group, said the ZF-TRW case shows the auto industry thus far has learned very little from Takata.

“A single supplier of an important safety component provided what appears to be a defective part across multiple manufacturers and 12 million cars,” Levine said.

(Click Here for more about Honda recalling 1.1 million vehicles to replace airbags.)

“While the first fatality reports emerged three years ago, it has taken a higher body count for more significant action to be taken by NHTSA and most impacted manufacturers remain silent. The industry needs to do better.”

NHTSA said it will take “appropriate action” based on the investigation’s findings.

Kia vehicles covered included 2010 through 2013 Forte compact cars and 2011 through 2013 Optima midsize cars in the U.S. Also covered are Optima Hybrid and Sedona minivans from 2011 and 2012. Recalled Hyundai vehicles included 2011 through 2013 Sonata midsize cars and the 2011 and 2012 Sonata Hybrid.

In 2016, Fiat Chrysler recalled about 1.9 million vehicles worldwide including the 2010 Chrysler Sebring, the 2011 through 2014 Chrysler 200, the 2010 through 2012 Dodge Caliber, the 2010 through 2014 Dodge Avenger, the 2010 through 2014 Jeep Patriot and Compass and the 2012 and 2013 Lancia Flavia.

(Less than half of potentially deadly Takata airbags replaced. For the story, Click Here.)

The auto industry has been plagued with faulty airbag issues, including Takata airbag inflators, which triggered the largest recall in U.S. history. At least 24 people have been killed worldwide and more than 200 injured by the inflators, which can explode with too much force and hurl dangerous shrapnel into the passenger cabin.

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