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The US government seems ready to order a recall of millions of air bag inflators for safety concerns

by Chloe Baker
2 comments
safety recall

The U.S. government appears poised to take action regarding a potential safety issue concerning millions of air bag inflators. These inflators, manufactured by ARC Automotive Inc. in Knoxville, Tennessee, are under scrutiny due to a manufacturing flaw that could lead to dangerous consequences.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a public hearing to gather input and testimony on ARC’s inflators, which are supplied to air bag manufacturers and several major auto companies. It’s estimated that around 25 million vehicles equipped with ARC-made air bags could be affected by this issue.

The core problem revolves around a metal inflator canister inside the airbag mechanism. The government asserts that a critical flaw exists that could cause this canister to rupture upon impact. Instead of deploying pressurized gas to inflate the airbag safely, the canister essentially explodes, propelling metal shrapnel into the vehicle at head height.

According to Bruce York of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, these injuries can be severe and occur in accidents where individuals might otherwise have escaped unharmed. Sharon Yukevich, another NHTSA official, characterized the continued use of these inflators as an “unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to vehicle occupants” and stated that the data and evidence suggest that such incidents are likely to occur again, with unpredictable timing.

In May, the NHTSA requested that ARC recall these inflators, citing at least seven injuries and two deaths in the United States and Canada since 2009 linked to these devices. ARC, however, has resisted issuing a comprehensive recall, potentially setting the stage for a legal battle.

NHTSA recently declared that ARC’s inflators, produced both by ARC and under license by another company, are indeed defective. The hearing held on Thursday represents one of the final steps before the agency can issue a formal recall order and potentially pursue legal action to enforce it.

Initially, NHTSA estimated that 67 million inflators should be recalled, but this number was revised to 52 million due to manufacturer responses during the investigation that led to an overcount.

At present, neither NHTSA, ARC, nor the automakers involved have released a full list of car models containing these inflators. ARC maintains that there is no safety defect, arguing that NHTSA’s demand is based on a hypothesis rather than conclusive technical findings. The company also asserts that NHTSA lacks the authority to compel a parts manufacturer, rather than a vehicle manufacturer, to announce recalls.

Steve Gold, ARC’s vice-president of product integrity, emphasized the company’s commitment to the safety of the public but contested NHTSA’s claims, characterizing the incidents cited as isolated and not indicative of a systemic defect. He also refuted the assertion that ARC had not fully cooperated with the agency’s investigation, stating that the company had provided tens of thousands of requested documents.

The hearing included emotional testimony from individuals like Jacob Tarvis, who lost his mother, Marlene Beaudoin, due to an exploding air bag inflator in 2021. These incidents highlight the urgency and significance of addressing this issue to prevent further tragedies.

General Motors, one of the automakers using ARC air bag inflators, issued a statement echoing some of ARC’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for continued investigation and cooperation with NHTSA to ensure the long-term safety of these inflators.

This situation underscores the critical importance of addressing safety concerns in automotive components to protect the lives and well-being of vehicle occupants.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about safety recall

What is the issue with the air bag inflators mentioned in the text?

The issue with the air bag inflators is a manufacturing flaw that could lead to a rupture of the metal inflator canister upon impact. Instead of safely inflating the airbag with pressurized gas, this flaw causes the canister to explode, releasing metal shrapnel into the vehicle, potentially causing harm to occupants.

How many vehicles are potentially affected by this air bag inflator issue?

It is estimated that at least 25 million vehicles equipped with ARC-made air bags could be affected by this issue.

When did the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hold a public hearing regarding this matter?

The NHTSA held a public hearing to address this issue, as mentioned in the text, on a Thursday, although the specific date is not provided.

How many injuries and deaths have been linked to these faulty air bag inflators in the United States and Canada?

According to the NHTSA, these inflators are linked to at least seven injuries and two deaths in the United States and Canada since 2009.

Why has ARC Automotive Inc. resisted issuing a comprehensive recall for these inflators?

ARC Automotive Inc. has resisted issuing a comprehensive recall, as mentioned in the text, by arguing that there is no safety defect and that the NHTSA’s demand is based on a hypothesis rather than conclusive technical findings. They also assert that NHTSA lacks the authority to compel a parts manufacturer, like themselves, to announce recalls.

What is the next step in addressing this air bag inflator issue?

The next step in addressing this issue is for the NHTSA to issue a formal recall order and potentially pursue legal action to enforce it, following the public hearing and their declaration that the inflators are defective.

How many inflators were initially estimated to be recalled, and why was this number revised?

Initially, the NHTSA estimated that 67 million inflators should be recalled, but this number was revised to 52 million. This revision occurred due to manufacturer responses during the investigation that led to an overcount.

What automakers have been using ARC air bag inflators, according to the text?

The text mentions that General Motors (GM) is one of the major automakers using ARC air bag inflators.

Is there a comprehensive list of car models containing these inflators available?

No, as per the text, neither the NHTSA, ARC, nor the automakers involved have released a full list of car models containing these inflators.

What is the testimony mentioned in the text that underscores the urgency of addressing this issue?

The text highlights emotional testimony from Jacob Tarvis, who lost his mother, Marlene Beaudoin, due to an exploding air bag inflator in 2021. This testimony emphasizes the urgency and significance of addressing this issue to prevent further tragedies.

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2 comments

CarFanatic77 October 6, 2023 - 12:57 pm

ARC say no defect, NHTSA say yes. big fight coming maybe. cars unsafe?

Reply
Reader24 October 6, 2023 - 8:26 pm

gov seems ready for recall. lots of airbags. could be danger. they talk metal stuff explode. serious biz.

Reply

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