The inclusion of airbags in vehicles is among the most significant vehicle safety advances in recent decades. This vital safety feature saves lives and prevents serious injury. Despite the potential value of airbags, vehicle occupants can be exposed to a significant risk of injury and loss of life when airbags do not deploy as intended. Kia has recently announced a recall of more than 500,000 vehicles based on evidence that the airbags might fail to inflate in the event of a collision. When an airbag does not deploy as designed during a collision, the result can be devastating injuries, disfigurement, disability, and even wrongful death.
(Jason Turchin, Esq has established a reputation among peers and clients as a knowledgeable and effective defective airbag attorney who serves as a common source of expertise and legal commentary for media outlets across the U.S. regarding defective air bag issues. Call (800) 510-0750 today for a free consultation.)
Non-Deploying Airbags Linked to a Malfunction Involving the Air Bag Computer Caused by Faulty Electrical Signals
Airbags in effected vehicles might not deploy during a collision because of alleged faulty controller units manufactured by ZF-TRW, which are currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The airbag controller believed to be responsible for the problem might prevent a seat belt pretensioner, frontal airbag, and/or side airbag from operating correctly during a collision according to the NHTSA. The federal agency has indicated that stray electrical signals traveling between the air bag control unit and the sensors that trigger deployment can damage or disable the control unit. The computer’s function in the airbag system is to detect a collision and trigger inflation of the airbags, as well as to prepare the seat belts for a collision.
The NHTSA learned of 6 collisions involving vehicles manufactured by Korean automakers, Kia and Hyundai, in March 2018 where airbags failed to deploy in collisions. These crashes resulted in six injury victims and four deaths. The air bags were designed to deploy in the accidents because they were frontal impact collisions that involved enough force to do significant damage to the vehicles. Kia and Hyundai recalled more than 1 million vehicles from February through June 2018. The investigation has revealed that some cars utilize varying degrees of signal protection to prevent stray electrical signals from triggering “electrical overstress.” Kia and Hyundai vehicles included in the recall were equipped with the “lowest level of circuit protection” according to the NHTSA.
Vehicles Included in the ZF-TRW Kia and Hyundai Recall
While the recall can always be expanded, some of the Hyundai and Kia vehicles covered include the following:
Model Type of Car Model Years
Kia Forte Compact Car 2010-2013
Kia Optima Midsize Car 2011-2013
Kia Optima Hybrid 2011-2012
Kia Sedona Minivans 2011-2012
Hyundai Sonata Midsize 2011-2013
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 2011-2012
Frontal air bags have been a standard safety feature in all passenger vehicles since the model year 1998 and in pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans since 1999. When air bags fail to deploy in a frontal impact crash that is “moderate to severe”, which has been compared to hitting a solid immovable barrier at a speed of 8 to 14 miles per hours, the consequences can be catastrophic. When airbags fail to deploy under these circumstances, vehicle occupants can suffer devastating injuries that include but are not limited to spinal cord injuries, skull fractures, brain injuries, impairment of internal organs, and even death. The danger of air bags not deploying in this type of crash is reflected in the fact that the six accidents that triggered the NHTSA investigation led to four fatalities.
Product defect cases involving failed motor vehicle systems raise complex factual and legal issues. If you or a family member was injured or your lost a loved one prematurely in a traffic accident when an airbag did not deploy, you should promptly speak to an experienced product defect attorney. Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation at (800) 510-0750.