A serious safety flaw may have been found.
If you’re the owner of a Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, or anything made by Fiat Chrysler starting from 2010 until this year, then you need to continue reading. According to the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded its investigating into malfunctioning airbag controls to a total of 12.3 million vehicles. While this is separate from the infamous Takata airbag recall, it is a potentially deadly problem that could be responsible for as many as eight deaths.
The exact problem can likely be blamed on the airbag control units, made by a German supplier called ZF-TRW. These control units can potentially fail in a crash due to electrical signals produced by the crash itself, which could then damage and disarm the airbag control circuit located in the passenger compartment.
ZF says it is committed to safety and is fully cooperating with the NHTSA during its investigation. At the moment, this is not a recall, but rather an engineering analysis. A recall is the next step. A total of four deaths have been caused by the alleged problem in Hyundai-Kia vehicles and three in vehicles from Fiat Chrysler. The eighth occurred in a crash involving a new Toyota Corolla. Toyota is not only cooperating with the investigation but is conducting its own as well. Does this all sound familiar? Of course, it does. The exploding Takata airbag recall got underway in 2013 after they were found responsible for around 100 injuries and at least 13 fatalities.
You would think airbag suppliers would have imposed far more grueling pre-production testing in the wake of that investigation and the subsequent Takata bankruptcy. But sadly that does not appear to be the case, but it’s still best to wait for the NHTSA to conduct its investigation before drawing conclusions.
Last year, Hyundai and Kia recalled around 1.1 million vehicles, including the 2010 through 2013 Forte and 2011 through 2013 Optima sedans, because of this problem. In 2016, some 1.9 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles were recalled globally, including the 2010 Chrysler Sebring, 2011 through 2014 Chrysler 200, 2010 through 2014 Jeep Patriot, and the 2010 through 2014 Dodge Avenger.