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52 million airbag inflators in the US are being forced to be recalled because they can explode and shoot shrapnel

By 09/05/2023 6:42 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


A significant step has been taken by the US government to compel a recalcitrant Tennessee company to recall 52 million air bag inflators that could explode, hurl shrapnel, and cause serious injury or death to people.

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that the inflators produced by ARC Automotive Inc. and under license by another company are deemed to be defective. Before deciding whether to request a court-ordered recall, the agency scheduled a public hearing for October 5, as required.

The inflators, which the agency claims are to blame for at least seven injuries and two fatalities in the U.S. and Canada since 2009, were requested to be recalled by ARC in May.

However, ARC has resisted issuing a comprehensive recall, setting up a potential legal battle.

On Tuesday, messages were left asking ARC for comment. The company argues that there are no safety flaws, that the NHTSA lacks the authority to order a parts manufacturer to issue recalls, and that the agency’s demand is grounded in speculation rather than technical findings.

“These air bag inflators may rupture when the vehicle’s air bag is commanded to deploy, causing metal debris to be forcefully ejected into the passenger compartment of the vehicle,” the NHTSA stated in an initial decision document. “A ruptured air bag inflator poses an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to vehicle occupants,” according to the manufacturer.

NHTSA wants ARC to recall at least twelve different automakers’ inflators used in driver and passenger front air bags.

A comprehensive list of vehicle models with the kind of air bag inflators that have exploded has not been made public by either ARC or the auto industry. However, it’s estimated that at least 25 million of the 284 million vehicles on American roads are equipped with them.

Owners of automobiles produced by at least a dozen different automakers, including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai, and Kia, are left to anxiously wonder if their vehicles contain front- or rear-seat inflators made by ARC. Automakers have recalled seven smaller quantities of inflators since 2017 due to isolated manufacturing issues, despite ARC’s resistance to a larger recall.

One of those recalls, involving almost 1 million vehicles, was announced by General Motors in May.

According to NHTSA documents released on Tuesday, the agency initially estimated that 67 million inflators needed to be recalled but later reduced that estimate to 52 million as a result of manufacturer responses in its investigation that overcounted the number.


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