NHTSA Calls for Massive ARC Airbag Inflator Recall

NHTSA Calls for Massive ARC Airbag Inflator Recall

In recent years, exploding airbag inflators have emerged as a looming threat in the automotive industry. These devices, designed to cushion vehicle occupants in the event of a crash, have instead caused severe injuries and even fatalities. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been closely monitoring the situation and has taken another step in pushing for an ARC airbag inflator recall. They’ve recently made a significant move by issuing an initial decision. This decision signals that the NHTSA believes ARC Automotive, Inc. and Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC airbag inflators may pose a substantial safety risk to people inside vehicles equipped with these inflators. Therefore, the agency is advocating for the recall of over 52 million airbag inflators 

NHTSA Advocates for ARC Airbag Inflator Recall  

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of vehicles on the road. They play a crucial role in setting and enforcing safety standards to protect drivers and passengers. 

In response to reports of exploding ARC airbag inflators injuring and killing occupants, the NHTSA initiated an extensive investigation to uncover the root cause. These inflators are essential components of the airbag system used by a dozen major automakers. ARC airbag inflators contain stored gas that fills the airbag cushion when activated by the propellant. 

The NHTSA previously requested ARC recall its airbag inflators in May 2023. However, ARC refused to do so, citing “one-off” manufacturing anomalies as the problem. Recently, on September 5, the NHTSA made a significant decision. They indicated that airbag inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive, Inc. and Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC may pose a substantial safety risk to vehicle occupants.  

Why Do We Need an ARC Airbag Inflator Recall?  

The specific issue identified during the investigation relates to a potential manufacturing error. ARC employs a special process called friction welding to create its inflators. However, this process can generate tiny metal fragments, known as “weld slag.” When an airbag deploys, it relies on a controlled release of gas to inflate rapidly and protect occupants. However, these metal fragments can block the exit, causing overpressurization. This can result in the airbag inflating too forcefully or even rupturing, creating a serious safety hazard. When the ARC airbags rupture, they shoot high-speed metal shrapnel at unsuspecting drivers and passengers. 

Reported incidents involving these ARC and Delphi airbag inflators have resulted in serious injuries and, tragically, even fatalities. These events have occurred not only in the United States but also in Canada, underscoring the international scope of the problem. The injuries stemming from these airbag explosions are far from minor. They range from facial injuries to severe head and body trauma. We have included the following examples to highlight the severity of the ARC airbag ruptures: 

  • In 2021, a driver in Michigan lost their life when the driver’s side airbag inflator in their 2015 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured. It’s essential to note that the vehicle had previously been in an accident and that the original airbag functioned correctly. However, the replacement inflator, manufactured by ARC, proved fatal. 
  • Another incident occurred in Michigan in March 2023, where a driver sustained facial injuries when the driver’s side airbag inflator in their 2017 Chevrolet Traverse exploded. This vehicle also used an ARC-manufactured inflator.  

These are just a few instances, among others, and they underscore the urgency of addressing this issue.  

What Automakers Have Used ARC Airbag Inflators? 

The scope of the problem involving ARC and Delphi airbag inflators is extensive, touching numerous major automakers and a wide array of vehicle models.  

Among the automakers whose vehicles have been affected are some familiar names: BMW of North America, LLC, FCA US LLC (the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram), Ford Motor Company, General Motors LLC, Hyundai Motor America, Inc., Kia America, Inc., Maserati North America, Inc., Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Porsche Cars North America, Inc., Tesla Inc., Toyota Motor North America, Inc., and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. 

Déjà Vu: Takata Airbag Recall 

Now, let’s take a look at a situation that might sound a bit familiar: the Takata airbag inflator recalls. 

In the case of Takata, they used a chemical called ammonium nitrate to inflate airbags during a car crash. But sometimes, when exposed to heat or humidity, this chemical degrades in the inflator’s metal container. When that happens, it could lead to an explosion of metal bits, similar to ARC airbag inflators.  

The Takata recall was one of the largest and most complicated recalls in the U.S. Almost 100 million airbag inflators worldwide were affected. Meanwhile, the recall impacted roughly 67 million vehicles from over 20 different automakers in the U.S. alone. And the consequences were dire: at least 38 people lost their lives globally, and more than 400 were injured due to these recalled Takata airbags. 

The parallels between the ARC airbag inflator issue and the Takata recalls highlight the urgency of addressing these automotive safety concerns promptly. 

The Lake Law Firm Will Stand by You 

 While the NHTSA has pressured companies to initiate an ARC airbag inflator recall, these dangerous devices are still on the road. Has an ARC or Takata airbag injured you or a loved one? The Lake Law Firm can assist you in filing a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve. Call (888) 525-3529 today to learn if you qualify for a claim.