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Massive Airbag Recalls Due to Defective Airbag Components

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Detroit, MIAirbag injuries can run the gamut from injuries sustained when the airbags don’t deploy in an accident and an occupant sustains injuries that might have been preventable to injuries sustained from the deployment of the airbag itself.

An even greater frustration, however, is when an airbag deploys without warning. Beyond frustration and inconvenience, such an event can be dangerous for the driver and every occupant of a vehicle when airbag failure constitutes an airbag that deploys at the worst possible time.

To that end, two massive airbag recalls aptly illustrate the issue. According to The Detroit News, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more than 1.1 million vehicles in the US and Canada primarily over a faulty chip in the deployment mechanism. The concern, according to the report, is rooted in a faulty chip, which in turn, could leave internal airbag circuitry susceptible to shorting.

The result is the potential for sudden deployment of the front airbags and activation of the seatbelt pretensioners when the driver and occupants least expect it. Not only could the defective airbags cause an accident, but airbag injuries as well.

The recall was the result of an investigation undertaken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in August of last year.

But it doesn’t end there.

Just this month, according to The Detroit News (4/11/13), no fewer than six automakers have recalled more than a million vehicles in the US due to defective airbags. In the latter scenario, according to the report, the airbags have the potential to catch fire or release metal fragments toward passengers at the point of deployment.

According to the airbag recall report, the massive recall that encompasses 3.4 million vehicles worldwide is due to a single, faulty part in an airbag that was manufactured a decade ago in Washington State.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been in communication with [airbag manufacturer] Takata and the affected automakers regarding the recalls. The agency will continue to monitor the situation closely and will take appropriate action as warranted,” the agency said, in comments published in The Detroit News.

Toyota is recalling 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, including 510,000 in the US. The vehicles include models from 2001-2003, including the Toyota Corolla, Corolla Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC 430.

GM said it planned to recall 48,000 2003 Pontiac Vibe cars in the United States - a model assembled at a joint GM-Toyota facility - and up to 7,000 in Canada.

Honda is recalling 561,000 vehicles in the US: the 2001-2003 Civic, 2002-2003 CR-V and 2002 Honda Odyssey, while Nissan is recalling 480,000 vehicles worldwide, including about 265,000 in the United States, including the 2001-2003 Maxima, Pathfinder Sentra, Infiniti FX crossover and QX4.

Mazda is recalling 149 vehicles in the US - some 2003-2004 Mazda6 and 2004 RX-8 vehicles.

The manufacturer at the root of the airbag failure is Takata, which is located in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

At one time only available for the driver and front passengers, airbags have become the darling of vehicle manufacturers as passenger safety in a crash has become paramount, from a regulatory as well as marketing stance. Side airbags and curtain airbags are now standard in many vehicles - and many manufacturers build entire marketing campaigns around safety and the number of airbags found in their vehicles.

As many as 10 airbags are common today, and vehicle manufacturers trumpet those numbers loudly.

However, the inclusion of additional airbags represents an added cost to the manufacturer. In an effort to cut costs and increase efficiencies, manufacturers are alleged to have turned to so-called “super suppliers” in search of the best price. “This recall is an example of one of the downsides of using ‘super suppliers’ for important vehicle components,” said Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs, in a statement.

Children and small adults are particularly susceptible to injury from airbag deployment - and even with the modern decelerated airbags of today, the presence of so many airbags, including side impact airbags, in a modern vehicle combines with faulty components to create a potentially dangerous risk of injury due to unexpected airbag deployment.

Airbag lawsuits inevitably follow…

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READER COMMENTS

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Just received a recall on our 2006 pontiac vibe with or vibe. It speaks really of just the passenger airbag which didnt go off either. Hit 3 cars, 1 car's rear was stuck out in my lane. I don't remeber what happened because I think I hit my head on the steering wheel because the airbag never deployed. I have a hyper extended finger and am not sure if it damaged the discs in my neck more. Left work afterward and spent over 2000 fixing my car. My insurance paid out to the other drivers. I believe it was raining earlier that day which may have caused the humidity to defect the airbag deployment. I hit 3 cars with the front of mine and the airbag never deployed. I was still having a seizure wgen the first responders arrived. I do not know what happened but from the police reports and other driver's statement, I just know my airbag didn't go off where I hit my head I am sure because that was a major conplaint when they rushed me to Grady so I didn't even realize my knuckle because of the headache. I have never jad a seizure before ever and apparently this was long and serious and if I hadn't knocked the car in neutral I would have rushed into heavy traffic because in my seizure my limbs were fully extended causing me to hold the gas petal down and possibly caused my finger hyperextension. Something to save my life could have killed me and many others.

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