What's the Problem?
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [1.] has demanded that ARC Automotive recall 67 million inflators in driver and passenger front airbags installed in Maserati automobiles and vehicles from at least 11 other automakers.
ARC airbag inflators have exploded in at least 8 incidents involving 2 deaths and 7 injuries, NHTSA said. At least 33 million vehicles on the road are believed to contain faulty airbag inflators.
ARC Says it Can't Ensure Airbag Inflators Won't Cause Future Injuries, Deaths
In its reply to the NHTSA, ARC Automotive said that even adhering to industry quality standards cannot fully eliminate the risk of occasional failures in which the airbag inflators might explode and shoot metal debris at the vehicle's occupants.
“Even with appropriate industry standards and efforts by manufacturers to minimize the risks of failures, the manufacturing processes may not completely eliminate the risk of occasional or isolated failures,” ARC said.
Related Article: Malfunctioned Airbags Recall Lawsuit Update
Is There an Airbag Inflator Recall?
ARC has refused to issue a formal recall for its airbag inflators, setting the stage for a potential court battle. The company says that there is no design flaw in the inflators and that the NHTSA has no authority to demand such a recall.
Additionally, ARC contends that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act “does not require vehicles and equipment to never experience a failure in the field. Rather the Safety Act seeks to protect the public against unreasonable risks.”
Airbag Inflator Injuries
NHTSA officials have outlined multiple injury reports linked to potentially defective ARC airbag inflators. On August 15, 2021, a driver-side airbag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured in Michigan, resulting in the death of the driver.
In another incident that occurred on October 20, 2021, a driver-side airbag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured in Kentucky, causing serious facial injuries to the driver.
What's Causing the Air Bag Explosions?
The NHTSA investigation has found that a byproduct known as a "weld slag" from welding during manufacturing can clog a vent inside the inflator canister that lets gas escape to fill the airbags during a collision. Pressure can build to the point where the canister is blown apart, NHTSA said.
In 2018, ARC installed scopes to monitor welding byproducts and the vents. NHTSA said in April that it was unaware of any explosions involving inflators that were manufactured since then.
Has ARC Warned About the Airbag Problem?
ARC acknowledged that it hasn’t notified any customers that its inflators are expected to occasionally explode; however, it said that during NHTSA’s 8-year investigation, airbag makers, auto manufacturers, and the U.S. government have been made aware of airbag rupture incidents on the roads.
“The risk of manufacturing anomalies cannot be completely ruled out in any mass production process,” ARC wrote.
It is still unclear what might happen next. Having ruled that ARC airbag inflators are defective, NHTSA could attempt to force ARC to recall the products, and then schedule a public hearing over the issue. If ARC refuses the recall, NHTSA could take the company to court to settle the matter.
NHTSA said it would give ARC “the opportunity to present information, views, and arguments showing that there is no defect or that the defect does not affect motor vehicle safety."
Automakers Issue Air Bag Recalls
Although ARC is resisting a formal recall on its airbag inflators, since 2017, automakers have conducted at least 8 smaller recalls of the company’s inflators that were linked to isolated manufacturing problems. Those recalls included one that General Motors announced last month involving nearly 1 million vehicles.
Owners of vehicles made by at least 12 manufacturers — Maserati, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai and Kia — are left to wonder whether their vehicles contain potentially defective ARC airbag inflators.
See all related product liability lawsuits our attorneys covered so far.
Get a Free Maserati Airbag Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Products Liability Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Maserati Airbag Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and are currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one was injured by an exploding Maserati airbag, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.