New airbag problem surfaces, 5 million vehicles recalled

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 05 February 2016

ANOTHER problem has developed with automotive air bags, this one resulting in recalls of up to five million vehicles worldwide containing Continental Automotive Systems product.

AP reports that Continental Automotive Systems says in documents filed with the US government that moisture can get inside its air bag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail. If that happens, air bags may not inflate in a crash or they could deploy without a crash.

The documents, posted on Thursday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, say Continental will notify carmakers, who will recall cars dating as far back as 2006.

Already Honda, Fiat Chrysler and Mercedes have issued recalls. Honda reported two injuries from the problem.

Continental says less than two million of the affected vehicles are in the US. Additional manufacturers involved in the recalls will come later in a filing with the government, the company said.

Carmakers will replace the computers at no cost to owners, according to documents.

The announcement comes in the middle of a recall crisis involving Takata Corp air bag inflators. Over 50 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide with about 24 million of them in the US.

Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least 11 people have died worldwide, including a woman in Malaysia, from the problem, and 139 have been injured.


In the documents, Continental says its problem first surfaced in January of 2008 when it analysed a malfunctioning control unit that was removed from a Mercedes vehicle.

The company continued to investigate, and in early 2011, Continental was told of two inadvertent air bag deployments in Mercedes and Fiat Chrysler vehicles.

Last year, Honda reported two malfunctions in crashes involving 2008 Accords, and US safety regulators began investigating.

Continental said it knows of more than 600 parts that were returned due to the problem.

Meanwhile, Honda is recalling an additional 2.2 million Honda and Acura vehicles because the driver’s air bag inflators made by Takata can explode and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

The recall is a big chunk of the 5 million additional vehicles to be repaired for Takata inflator problems that US safety regulators announced last month.

Honda’s recall includes older model years dating to 2005, but also has some newer vehicles from as recently as the 2015 and 2016 model years.

Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that quickly inflates the air bag in a crash. But the chemical can degrade over time when exposed to heat and humidity and explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister designed to contain the explosion.

Honda said in a statement Wednesday night that no inflator ruptures of this type have been reported in any of its vehicles.

The company will notify owners by mail and replace the inflators for free with new ones made by manufacturers other than Takata. But parts won’t be available until this summer, the company said.

Affected models include some 2007 through 2011 Honda CR-Vs, 2005-2012 Acura RLs, 2007 to 2016 Acura RDXs including early production 2016 models, 2007 to 2014 Honda Ridgelines, 2009 to 2014 Honda Fits, 2009 to 2014 Acura TLs, 2010 to 2014 Honda FCX Claritys, 2010 to 2014 Honda Insights, 2010 to 2013 Acura ZDXs, 2011 to 2015 Honda CR-Zs and the 2013 to 2016 Acura ILX including early production 2016 vehicles.

The recall brings to 8.51 million the number of Honda and Acura vehicles recalled in the US for Takata inflator problems. Honda is Takata’s largest customer and has stopped buying its inflators for new models.


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