When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concludes that a vehicle creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the maker is required to fix the vehicle at no cost to the owner – lately it’s a spate of airbag recalls. (NHTSA Prompts Toyota Power Window Switch Recall for Fires) This can be done by repairing it, replacing it, offering a refund (for equipment) or repurchasing the car. This is the partial result of stricter enforcement policies after NHTSA was characterized as the lap dog of the auto industry at a Congressional hearing over Toyota.
The person testifying at the Toyota hearing obviously doesn’t know dogs very well. In Germany, for instance, the fierce German Shepard Automakers terrorize European safety agencies and the courts into submission and inaction. No better example exists than the scandalous behavior regarding Volkswagen and Dieselgate. Nothing has been done and three German national under criminal indictment in the U.S. are likely hiding in Germany. (Long-Time Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges for Rigging Tests on Dirty Diesels, Volkswagen Pleads Guilty on Felony Charges in Dieselgate, Dieselgate: Volkswagen Cuts Deal with FTC and Plaintiffs)
A reinvigorated NHTSA along with automakers who now know all too well of the large fines and charges – civil and criminal – as well as lawsuits that derive from stonewalling safety defects has resulted in a seemingly unending list of safety recalls that occur almost daily. The law says a maker has five days to notify NHTSA of a known safety defect. (Toyota to Pay Record $17.35 Million for Lexus Safety Cover-Up, Toyota Settles Lawsuits for $1.1 Billion and Will Modify Millions of Vehicles with Electronically Controlled Gas Pedals to Stop Runaways, Safety Recalls Galore! The Toyota and GM Effect Has Industry Scrambling as BMW, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes and Saturn Join the Defect Parade)
Latest Airbag Defects
Ford Motor Company is recalling 2016-2017 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers and 2017 Lincoln Continental cars. During a crash, the Takata driver’s frontal air bag may not fully inflate or the air bag cushion may detach from the air bag module. This safety defect, per Ford, is not related to Takata’s non-desiccated ammonium nitrate airbag inflators that are subject to propellant degradation and potential rupture in a crash.
These vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.” If the air bag inflator initiator fails to ignite, the air bag will not deploy, increasing the risk of injury.
Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver frontal air bag module. Remedy parts are not currently available, and a new delivery hold and demonstration ban is in effect.
Owners will be notified of the safety recall in this month. Owners will receive a second notice when parts are available, currently expected to be in August 2017. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 17C02.
Nissan North America (Nissan) is recalling 2012 Nissan Versa small cars. Degradation of the side impact sensor connector pins may cause the curtain and seat-mounted air bags to deploy unexpectedly if the door is slammed. Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will install a new jumper harness, and replace the side impact satellite sensors. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261.
Unbelievably to a plumber or electrician, Versa subcompacts use dissimilar metals in the side air bag sensor connector harness (gold “female” connector and tin “male” connector). Supplier Robert Bosch in the electronic business since the 19th century should know better. In some Versa models this metal combination leads to fretting and oxidation on the pins of the Satellite Sensor-to-Airbag Control Unit (ACU) harness connection. Fretting and oxidation on the connector pins increases the likelihood of a momentary communication loss from the satellite sensor to the ACU. NHTSA discovered the problem from customer complaints.
The curtain and seat-mounted side air bag system is designed to enter “backup state” when signal loss occurs between the side impact satellite sensors and the ACU. This backup state allows the curtain and seat-mounted side air bag to deploy as intended even when the signal is lost. However, backup state uses only the “safing path” of the ACU algorithm for a deployment decision and has a significantly lower threshold requirement for airbag deployment compared to normal state which requires both “safing and trigger path thresholds” to be met. Consequently, if this momentary communication loss occurs when the door is closed with excessive force (greater than 4.2 m/s), it may cause the curtain and seat-mounted side air bag and seat belt pretensioner to deploy inadvertently.
Porsche Cars North America is recalling 2016 911 GT3 RS and 911 R vehicles and 2017 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4, 911 Carrera 4S, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, 911 Targa 4, 911 Targa 4S, 911 Turbo S, 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, 718 Boxster, 718 Boxster S, 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S vehicles. The passenger frontal air bag inflator initiator may fail to ignite during a crash.
Porsche will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected air. Porsche has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Porsche customer service at 1-800-767-7243. Porsche’s number for this recall is AH03.
Porsche Cars North America recalling 2015-2016 Macan S and Macan Turbo and 2017 Macan GTS vehicles. The passenger occupant detection sensor mat may fail in the front passenger seat, deactivating the front passenger air bag. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”
Porsche will notify owners, and dealers will replace the sensor mat and seat cushion, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Porsche customer service at 1-800-767-7243. Porsche’s number for this recall is AH02.
Volvo Car USA is recalling 2017 S60, S60CC, V60, V60 Cross Country, and XC60 vehicles. The affected vehicles have driver and front passenger seat side mounted side air bags (SAB) with inflator initiators that may fail to ignite during a crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection” and number 214, “Side Impact Protection.”
Volvo will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the front seat side air bags. The recall is expected to begin March 31, 2017. Owners may contact Volvo customer service at 1-800-458-1552. Volvo’s number for this recall is R89712. Note: This recall is an expansion of a previous but obviously incomplete recall 16V-918.