Maryland Driver Alert : NHTSA Investigates Air Bag Units in 12 Million Vehicles Following Fatal Crashes Where Air Bags Failed to Deploy

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded its investigation of potentially defective air bag systems to include 12 million vehicles going back a decade. The investigation began after air bags failed to deploy during two serious front-end crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas. Now, the investigation has expanded to look into air bag control units in vehicles made by several manufacturers. NHTSA reports the units could fail during a motor vehicle accident, resulting in the air bags failing to deploy.

Maryland drivers may want to consider whether their vehicles are among those whose airbag control units are being investigated by NHTSA.

Vehicles under investigation include model years 2010 through 2019 manufactured by Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. The vehicles in question have air bag control units produced by TRW Automotive, which was acquired by German auto supplier ZF in 2015. There may also be an electrical issue that could affect the pre-tensioning system that prompts seatbelts to tighten around the motor vehicle occupants in event of a rapid slowdown.

Last year, NHTSA reported it was investigating air bags in 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes after air bags failed to deploy in six different auto crashes, resulting in injuries and four deaths. This prompted a Hyundai and Kia recall of a million vehicles to look into an electrical issue that could affect the proper deployment of the air bag system.

The current NHTSA air bag unit investigation, considered an “engineering analysis,” will involve vehicle inspections, tests, surveys, and information from the manufacturer. ZF-TRW is cooperating with authorities. The analysis brings the investigation one step closer to a recall.

Air bags protect drivers and passengers by automatically inflating during a crash, serving as a cushion between the vehicle occupants and the vehicle. The air bag control units sense when a crash is imminent and deploy the air bag system. Failure of these units could result in the air bags failing to deploy, which could lead to serious bodily injury or fatality.

This latest government concern over air bag safety comes in the wake of the massive Takata air bag recall affecting 41.6 million vehicles. That recall took place due to air bags exploding and sending debris into the vehicle, causing injury and death. See links to NHTSA webpages below, where you can sign up for recall alerts and search for your VIN.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Takata Air Bag Recall Expands: Is Your Maryland Car on the List?
January 2018


The federal government is investigating potentially defective air bags in more than 12 million vehicles
CNN Business April 24, 2019

As air bag probe expands to include 12.3M vehicles, is your car one of them?
NBC News April 23, 2019

NHTSA – Takata Recall Spotlight

NHTSA – Safety Issues and Recalls (search by VIN)

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