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NHTSA Announces Defective Airbag Follow-Up Recall after Ineffective Fixes

When a recall notice is issued, we bring our vehicle to the dealer and have it repaired we are accustomed to think the issue will be fully addressed and repaired so that our  loved ones aren’t unnecessarily subjected to serious risks. However, despite these intentions, the fact of the matter is that recommended fixes for a recall do not always perform as they are expected or intended. When proposed fixes for car, truck and SUV recalls do not function as intended, vehicle owners are unknowingly subjected to an increased risk of injury or death.   This is the case in the latest airbag recall that affects more than 2 million vehicles.

At The Reiff Law Firm our attorneys are dedicated to informing the public of defective products and safety risks so as to reduce the chances that your or a loved one will experience a serious injury. However, if you have been catastrophically injured due to a defective product or another person’s carelessness, call (215) 709-6940 to discuss your injury with an experienced attorney.


What Vehicles Are Affected By This Follow Recall?

This major recall largely affects the vehicles produced by three manufacturers: Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Honda. Most affected vehicles were produced in the early 2000s, chiefly from 2002 to 2004. Vehicles where a defect may still occur include following models:

  • 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty
  • 2002-2004 Grand Cherokee
  • 2003 Acura MDX
  • 2003-2004 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe
  • 2003-2004 Dodge Vipers
  • 2003-2004 Toyota Corolla
  • 2003-2004 Toyota Matrix
  • 2003-2004 Toyota Avalon

Ambulance - NHTSA Announces Defective Airbag Follow-Up Recall after Ineffective Fixes

The original problem with these vehicles was narrowed down to a computer chip that controls airbag deployment. In fact, these vehicles had previously been recalled by their respective manufacturers in 2012, 2013, and in 2014. Previously, the automakers indicated that they would replace the electronic control switches and units that had been damaged. Furthermore, the initial fix also saw the manufactures protect undamaged chips by installing filters or by placing the chips within a wire harness. While the original fix appears to have been effective in many instances, all three automakers have reported incidents where it was not.

Now,  in the wake of more than 400 consumer reports detailing unintended or inadvertent airbag deployments, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided to re-open this recall and request a secondary fix. To date, only minor injuries have been reported, however the nature of this defect could result in serious bodily injury or even death.

What Should Consumers Do If They Suspect That Their Vehicle Is Defective?

Consumers whose vehicle is listed above  or who suspect that their vehicle is affected by this inadvertent airbag deployment defect, should immediately check their vehicle’s recall status by entering its vehicle Identification number (VIN) into the recall look-up tool provided by NHTSA. Vehicle owners should also keep an eye out for a paper notice sent through the US Postal Service.

If your vehicle is affected by this defect, owners should bring them in for repair immediately. While the repair that is currently available is only a temporary measure, owners should not delay until the permanent fix is available due to the potential injuries that can occur due to an unintended airbag deployment. The temporary fix will protect the current control units from sustaining damage during the course of normal usage. The permanent fix, which may not be available for several months due to the more than 2 million affected vehicles, will fully replace the control unit in affected vehicles. In the meantime government regulators urge owners to seek the temporary fix rather than disable the airbags or delay action.

Are Takata Airbags Used In These Affected Vehicles?

Yes. One aspect that makes this recall particularly pressing is that Takata-produced airbags are present in many of the vehicles with defective controller chips. While not every vehicle affected by the defective controller chip recall will have a Takata-produced airbag, the possibility is present and many vehicles will, indeed, have a Takata manufactured airbag.

Takata-produced air bags are known to deploy with excessive force and can lead to horrific neck and facial injuries that resemble the product of a violent attack. In fact, injuries inflicted by Takata airbags have been so severe that people have passed away due to them. Vehicles that utilize Takata airbags have already been recalled by nearly all major auto makers.  Fatalities due to Takata airbags deploying with excessive force include:

  • 47-year-old Devin Xu was driving his 2002 Acura in a parking lot when, for unexplained reasons, the vehicle accelerated rapidly. His car struck 3 other vehicles and then came to rest after running into a building. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department report determined that his cause of death was due to TBI, neck injuires and facial injuries from a “foreign object inside [the] airbag.”
  • Hien Tran’s injuries were first believed to be the product of a violent attack where an assailant was believed to have carjacked Ms. Tran before stabbing and killing her. However, the source of Ms. Tran’s injuries were actually her Honda Accord’s Takata airbag. When the airbag in Ms. Tran’s vehicle deployed, the excessive force it deployed with sent pieces of metal shrapnel into her neck
  • Carlos Solis IV, a 35-year-old father of two teenagers was driving his 2002 Accord in January 2014 near Houston, Texas. Mr. Solis was killed after the airbag inflator in the driver-side airbag ruptured.

Hospital Bed - NHTSA Announces Defective Airbag Follow-Up Recall after Ineffective Fixes

In all, at least 6 people have lost their lives due to the Takata airbag defect. The Takata recall alone has seen more than 24 million cars, trucks and SUVs recalled. This latest reemergence of the unintended airbag deployment defect makes serious injury or death more likely not only because a driver can lose control of the vehicle when a airbag deploys, but also the Takata exploding airbag defect transforms a piece of safety equipment into a dangerous and deadly weapon. In short, when both defects are present, a motorist and vehicle occupants face an increased risk of of serious injury or death due to the synergistic nature of these two defects. That is, one defect makes an airbag deployment more likely to occur while the other transforms the deployment itself into a dangerous explosion that may launch metal projectiles into the vehicle cabin.

Rely on our Experience Handling Personal Injury And Wrongful Death Due To Defective Products

For more than 34 years, Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians have come to rely on the personal injury and defective product attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm. We fight for those who have been injured aggressively and strategically. For a free and confidential initial consultation, call (215) 709-6940 today.


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