NHTSA wants a Recall of 67 Million Airbag Inflators, but the Manufacturer Disagrees
The NHTSA is aware of at least 9 incidents of air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive rupturing, causing severe injuries and 1 death starting in 2009. Seven of the 9 incidents, including the fatality, occurred in the U.S. The other 2 injuries occurred in Canada.
The 67 million air bag inflators in question were all manufactured from 2000 to January 2018, when ARC installed equipment to help inspect inflators, according to the company.
“While incidents are rare, the incidents that have occurred have been severe, prompting the agency to issue a recall request,” the NHTSA said. “NHTSA is taking this action under its authorities to investigate potential defects and oversee recalls as required by the Vehicle Safety Act.”
ARC has thus far denied the need for a recall, saying “We disagree with NHTSA’s new sweeping request when extensive field testing has found no inherent defect.”
Takata Air Bag Recall
Millions of vehicles equipped with airbags made by the Japanese company Takata are already being recalled. The problem with Takata airbags is that prolonged exposure to high heat and humidity can cause them to explode when deployed.
To date, the Takata airbag defect has been linked to at least 18 deaths and more than 400 severe injuries, including blinding and maiming. The Takata airbag recall is the largest auto recall in U.S. history.
Related Article: Malfunctioned Airbags Recall Lawsuit Update
Which Vehicles are Equipped with ARC Airbag Inflators?
The ARC air bag inflators NHTSA is seeking to have recalled are used by at least 12 vehicle manufacturers, including:
- General Motors
- Ford Motor
- Toyota Motor
How Many Deaths Have ARC Airbag Inflators Caused?
In 2021, the driver of a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse was killed when the airbag inflator ruptured in Michigan. And outside the U.S., a driver in Canada was killed by a ruptured airbag inflator in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra, according to the NHTSA.
“Airbag inflators that project metal fragments into vehicle occupants, rather than properly inflating the attached airbag, create an unreasonable risk of death and injury,” NHTSA said.
GM Air Bag Recall
In response to the ARC airbag controversy, GM announced that it would recall almost 1 million vehicles over concerns that the airbag inflator “may explode during deployment, due to a manufacturing defect.”
Included in the GM recall are the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles from model years 2014 through 2017 with modules manufactured by ARC Automotive. GM Dealers will replace the airbag module, free of charge.
In a response letter to the NHTSA, an ARC spokesperson said the company “strongly disagrees” with the agency’s conclusion that a recall for 67 million airbags is necessary, and that the request was “not based upon any objective technical or engineering conclusion regarding the existence of a defect” and that the “failures were anything other than occasional or isolated.”
The letter went on to cite 8 years of cooperation with NHTSA on an investigation into ruptured airbag inflators, including tests on 918 inflators pulled out of cars from salvage yards and sent to the company’s labs for testing.
“None of the 918 inflators ruptured in the tests,” ARC said. “Accordingly, the test program demonstrated with 99% reliability and 99% confidence that the inflators in the subject population would deploy without rupturing.”
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