In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last week, Continental Automotive Systems reports a potentially dangerous problem with its airbags that can lead to the failure of the airbags to deploy or to deployment without a crash.
Continental Automotive Systems says moisture can get inside the airbag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
In documents posted on February 4, 2016, Continental says it will notify automakers, who will recall cars dating as far back as the 2006 model year. Honda, Fiat Chrysler and Mercedes have already issued recalls. Honda has reported two injuries from the problem, according to the AP. Automakers will replace the airbag computers at no cost to vehicle owners.
This latest airbag problem comes in the middle of a recall crisis involving airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. In the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, approximately 24 million vehicles in the U.S. are being recalled. The defective Takata inflators can explode with excessive force, blowing apart a metal canister and sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least 11 people have died worldwide in these airbag explosions, and 139 people have been injured, the AP reports. In December 2015, a man driving a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup was killed when an inflator in a Takata airbag exploded and he was struck by shrapnel. This was the first airbag inflator death in a vehicle other than a Honda, according to USA Today.
Honda said the defective inflators will be replaced free of charge with inflators from a different supplier. But because of the large volume of repairs needed, the necessary replacement parts will not be available until the summer 2016, USA Today reports.
Honda has recalled 364,787 Accord sedans from the 2008 to 2010 model years because of the airbag issue. Honda said it has two reports of people being hurt because airbags failed to deploy in a crash, the AP reports. Fiat Chrysler is recalling 112,000 2009 Dodge Journeys and 2008-2009 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans for the same problem. In 2015, Mercedes Benz recalled 126,260 C-Series cars from 2008 and 2009 and 2010 GLK350 vehicles because of the problem. Honda reported two malfunctions in crashes involving 2008 Accords, and U.S. automotive safety regulators began investigating, according to the documents.
Continental Automotive Systems says any malfunction will cause the airbag control computer to shut down, which will trigger a dashboard warning light. Honda says drivers with an activated supplemental restraint system light should visit a dealer for a repair from the limited number of parts on hand.