Faulty US air bag issue heats up

Faulty US air bag issue heats up

crash-testThe US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now urging the owners of nearly eight million cars and trucks to have air bags repaired because of potential danger to occupants in the front seats.

The agency says that owners in high humidity areas such as Florida, Hawaii, areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, as well as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana should pay special attention to the recall warning.

NHTSA has put forward a theory in documents suggesting the chemical used to inflate the airbag can be altered by high humidity, making it explode with too much force while deploying.

NHTSA says that inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed. Japanese parts supplier Takata Corporation made the inflators.

NHTSA has just assed 3.1 million vehicles to a recall that initially covered 4.7 million cars and SUVS. The recall covers models manufactured by BMW. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

AP reports that manufacturers have limited the recalls to high humidity areas, even though Takata and NHTSA have not yet identified a firm cause for the inflator rupture.

General Motors sold two models with faulty airbags, the 2003 to 2005 Pontiac Vibe which was made by Toyota which it has recalled in high humidity areas, and the 2003 to 2005 Saab 9-2X model which was made by Subaru.

Toyota has issued a recall notice across 247,000 older cars including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia SUV and Tundra pick up. Its recall covers vehicles only in areas of high humidity.

Both GM and Toyota have told customers in these areas to not to let anyone sit in the vehicle’s front passenger seat until repairs are made.

Toyota told AP that its working with Takata to pinpoint the cause of the rupture and to gauge the influence of high absolute humidity which measures the amount of water vapour in the air.

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