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.
READ MORE AIRBAG INJURIES LEGAL NEWS
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…