Exploding Airbags Spark Concern for Millions of U.S. Cars

two exploded airbags rest on top of a car dashboardAirbags which explode instead of expanding have resulted in two deaths, and four injuries and a recent notice of concern issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to numerous car manufacturers, including Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.

Investigation into Tennessee-made ARC Automotive airbags has now been ongoing for over six years, with some manufacturers issuing small recalls. Fingers are now being pointed and many are questioning why the investigation, which may potentially affect 51 million cars, has taken so long and revealed so little.

A chemical compound used to manufacture ARC Automotive’s airbag inflators, called ammonium nitrate, has been linked to airbag explosions upon impact.

Tens of millions of vehicles in the US are feared to be carrying airbags containing these potentially explosive airbag inflators. The car manufacturers which received notice from the NHTSA have been asked to check their driver and passenger-side airbags.

An airbag inflator is, as its name suggests, a mechanism built into the airbag which, during a crash, ignites a chemical explosive to inflate. Manufacturers generally use nitrogen, argon, or another harmless gas in the manufacture of the airbag inflators. This gas will inflate the nylon bag which, upon expanding protects the driver or passengers from the impact of a crash.

ARC Automotive is not the only company which has made headlines for airbag inflator lawsuits. Among the biggest recall of airbags to date is that of Takata airbags. The ongoing Takata recalls, expanded over several years has been called the largest recall ever in U.S. history, affecting millions of vehicles. That recall involved the same chemical compound as the airbag inflators involved in the ARC Automotive recall: ammonium nitrate.

As many as 24 people have died as a result of the faulty airbag inflators which caused the airbags to explode on impact, instead of deploying correctly. The result was that metal shards penetrated the drivers, injuring and in some instances, killing them.

The thought of millions of vehicles driving on the roads with potentially faulty airbag inflators is concerning.

Airbags are supposed to be run through a series of tests before their design is approved to ensure they work in a timely, effective manner, and that they are safe. The very first line of tests includes folding, igniter and gas tests. These are done to ensure airbags will deploy properly and also remain intact after expanding outward.

Following these tests, deployment time tests are carried out. An airbag needs to unfold quickly to save a life – too long and a life could be lost or a serious injury incurred.

Crash tests are then carried out. For these, a car is crashed into a bump or curb or wall to ensure the airbags deploy correctly and in time.

Then there are tests called homologation tests to ensure that the airbag expands correctly in different kinds of accidents.

These specific safety measures are routinely taken to ensure airbag suitability and safety. This should put consumers’ minds at ease. At the same time, knowing the line of stringent tests which must be undertaken for airbag suitability should raise some questions as to how faulty airbag inflators have managed to find their way into vehicles on the road.

Reports on the Takata recall allege that the ammonium nitrate used as the explosive compound used in the recalled airbags is the same explosive which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.

What to Do if You are Injured by Exploding Airbags

ARC Automotive is only now being held accountable for fatal or seriously damaging airbag explosions. If you or your loved one was involved in a serious airbag explosion, contact OnderLaw. We’re standing with people like you to change the way corporations do business.

Call 800-799-2824 today for a free, no obligation consultation.