Defective Airbag Problems
Written by Faith Anderson on July 15, 2015
ANOTHER Airbag Manufacturer Under Investigation for Faulty Airbag Inflators
On the heels of numerous recalls that have affected millions of vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags, federal safety officials are now warning consumers about the potential risk of airbags manufactured by ARC Automotive, Inc. overinflating and rupturing. According to the report, if the problem with the ARC airbags is confirmed, it could affect as many as half a million Kia and Chrysler vehicles equipped with the allegedly defective devices. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries allegedly caused by a defective auto part, such as an airbag, seat belt or tire, contact a reputable product liability lawyer today for legal help. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can protect your legal rights and seek fair and timely reimbursement for your injuries.
Allegedly Faulty ARC Automotive Airbags
Just last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into airbag inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive, following at least two reports of the airbags overinflating and rupturing, causing two injuries. The NHTSA investigation comes as the agency continues to face criticism over the tens of millions of Takata airbags recalled due to reports of the devices overinflating and rupturing, a serious problem that has been linked to at least eight fatalities and more than 100 injuries. The two cases highlighted in the NHTSA investigation appear to be the first reports of airbag ruptures associated with ARC Automotive products.
Vehicles Affected by Potential Airbag Defect
According to the NHTSA, the first ARC airbag rupture took place in 2009, and involved a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, while the second took place in 2014, and involved a 2004 Kia Optima. In both cases, it appears that the inflator on the ARC airbag ruptured due to overinflation, a problem that could impact as many as 420,000 2002 Chrysler Town and Country vehicles, and about 70,000 2004 Kia Optima vehicles. According to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), “Preliminary analysis indicates that the exhaust path for the inflation gas mixture may have been blocked by an object of indeterminate origin. This blockage appears to have caused high internal pressure and subsequent rupture of the inflator assembly.”
Defective Airbag Recall Issued by Regulators
The same issue with airbags overinflating and rupturing resulted in a massive recall of Takata-made airbags in more than 30 million vehicles made by 10 different auto manufacturers in the United States. According to the Takata recall announcement, the problem was associated with the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which was vulnerable to being ignited with explosive force. In cases where the inflator casing ruptured in an auto accident, metal shards from the airbag were sprayed throughout the passenger cabin, injuring and even killing some passengers and drivers. Following an intensive investigation into the defective airbags, it appears that there were several causes of the problem, including poor quality control during the manufacturing process, the design of the car itself, and long-term exposure of the inflator to high heat and humidity.
Injuries, Fatalities from Takata Airbags
It was in November 2014, that the New York Times published a report indicating that Takata was aware of defects impacting its airbags for years before the company filed paperwork with federal regulators, and that same month, the NHTSA called for the Takata airbag recalls to be expanded to a national level. Since then, millions of Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Subaru, Mitsubishi and General Motors vehicles have been added to the recall list, and in May 2015, the Department of Transportation issued a statement indicating that Takata acknowledges that the airbag inflators the company produced for certain vehicles were defective.
Reports of injuries and fatalities from faulty Takata airbags continue to reach the NHTSA, and in June 2015, the NHTSA and Honda confirmed the eighth death allegedly caused by a Takata airbag rupture, in a 2001 Honda Civic rented in Los Angeles in September 2014. According to Honda, the car had been under recall since 2009, but various owners of the vehicle, including the rental company in Los Angeles, had failed to have the necessary repairs done. In some cases, reports of defective Takata airbags have involved horrific injuries, with metal shards from the airbag inflator penetrating the faces and necks of drivers and passengers.
Contact an Experienced Defective Auto Part Attorney
It remains unclear at this time whether the incidents with the ARC airbags are due to a defect or a common problem, but the NHTSA recommends that consumers remain aware of the potential risk of injury or death from allegedly defective ARC airbags. If you have been injured by a allegedly faulty airbag, or if you lost a loved one in an accident involving a defective auto part, consult a knowledgeable attorney today to explore your possible compensation options. You may have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective auto part, in order to pursue financial compensation for your losses.