ARC Automotive Airbag Inflator Recall Requested By NHTSA, Following Reports of Rupture, Injuries and Death
Federal highway safety officials are calling for ARC Automotive, Inc. issue a recall for about 67 million air bag inflators, following reports of the device causing air bags to rupture and send metal debris into the passenger compartment, resulting in severe injuries and at least one death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent an airbag recall request to ARC Automotive, indicating that the agency found a defect in the air bag inflators that pose a significant and unreasonable safety risk for consumers.
Despite the serious risk, ARC has not cooperated in recalling the airbag inflators, indicating that it does not believe a defect is present in their products.
ARC Airbag Problems
An investigation into the safety of ARC airbags was launched in August 2016, after officials received reports of consumers sustaining severe injuries to their face, head, and legs and a fatality that was caused by an air bag rupturing.
The agency concluded from their investigation that a defect was present in the air bag inflators, due to the manufacturing process. A blockage of metal debris can occur within the air bag inflator as a byproduct of the welding process during manufacturing. When the air bag deploys, the blockage can over pressurize the inflator, causing the air bag to overinflate and rupture, releasing metal debris onto the vehicle’s occupants.
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In the correspondence, NHTSA officials outlined several injury reports related to ARC airbags rupturing. Officials reported that on August 15, 2021, a driver side air bag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured in Michigan, resulting in fatal injuries to the driver.
In another incident outlined in the notice, officials stated that on October 20, 2021, a driver side air bag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured in Kentucky, resulting in severe facial injuries to the driver.
Although ARC has maintained that a defect is not present in the airbag inflators, multiple automobile manufacturers that use air bags manufactured by ARC have already issued recalls of their own impacting thousands of vehicles to address the defect.
To date, BMW has issued a recall of their 2017 MY X5, sDrive35i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive50i, X5 xDrive35d, and X5 xDrive40e vehicles in March of 2017 and Ford issued a recall of their 2017 Mustang and F-150 vehicles in August of 2017. In addition, General Motors has issued four separate recalls since 2018, while Volkswagen has also recalled various vehicle models due to the defect.
The NHTSA indicated that it may take other appropriate action against the company if they fail to initiate a recall. If ARC still decides that a defect is not present in the inflators and declines to issue a recall of the air bag inflators, they must respond to the NHTSA’s correspondence with a full explanation on why they do not believe a danger is present to consumers along with additional data detailing their analysis of the issue.
Defective Airbag Recalls Have Riddled the U.S. Auto Industry
The announcement comes as many automakers continue to replace defective Takata airbags, which were found to contain a design defect that could allow the inflators to rupture and project shrapnel into the cab of the vehicle, which has resulted in at least 28 deaths and more than 400 injuries.
Since 2014, more than 100 million Takata airbags installed in tens of millions of vehicles have been recalled worldwide, after officials identified the nitrate used to inflate the air bags can break down due to exposure to heat and humidity, which can result in an explosion of metal debris.
The series of Takata airbag recalls has been the largest and one of the most complex ever recorded in U.S. history, impacting more than 20 manufacturers of automobiles. However, if approximately 67 million ARC airbags are recalled in the coming weeks, the auto industry could be plagued with additional years of airbag repairs.
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