In a global recall, Chrysler is recalling 919,000 Liberty SUVs and Jeep Grand Cherokees over concerns that the air bags may inflate while the sports utility vehicles are in operation. Affected models include Liberty models from 2002 and 2003 and Grand Cherokees from 2002, 2003, and 2004. 745,000 of the SUVs are in the United States.
The air bag defect can prove dangerous should a parts failure in the safety device’s control computer occur, potentially prompting the side and front air bags to deploy. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, per its investigation, affected air bags deployed 215 times, resulting in 81 minor injuries. While no related car crashes have been reported, NHTSA said that this air bag defect could cause an auto accident, as a driver may be caught off guard enough to lose control of his/her auto. The problem also may prompt the seat belts in the vehicle to tighten up as if a crash were about to occur.
To remedy the safety issue, Chrysler will install an electrical filter. The repair is free and owners will be told about the recall in January.
Unfortunately, air bag defects continue to be a problem with a number of vehicle makes and models. This summer, Hyundai recalled 220,000 Santa Fe SUVs and Sonata sedans (2007, 2008, and 2009 models) because sensors that were supposed to protect small kids during air bag deployment weren’t working. The occupant classification system, which is supposed to figure out the passenger’s size and whether or not the air bag should go off, needed to be examined for possible recalibration. Hyundai also recalled 22,000 sedans (2012 and 2013 models) over concerns that a manufacturing mistake might cause the curtain side airbags to deploy for no reason.
Last month, Ford recalled 154,000 Fiesta subcompacts over side air bag problems. The problem involved the air bags refusing to inflate when necessary if there was no one in the front passenger seat. 2011, 2012, and 2013 Fiestas were affected. A free repair by dealers is supposed to reprogram the computer so that the safety issue is remedied.
Meantime, Honda has had to recall over 2.5 million Honda and Acura autos because of air bags that might inflate too forcefully, potentially emitting deadly shrapnel into the compartment. Two related air bag fatalities were reported.
Air Bag Defects
Airbags are supposed to save lives, not cause additional injury. When an air bag’s failure to deploy doesn’t protect a passenger from serious injury during a crash, this may be grounds for an air bag defect lawsuit. When an air bag deploys without cause, causing injury and/or a collision, this may be reason for an auto products liability case against the manufacturer. When an air bag inflates too forcefully or sends out metal parts and causes injury or death, the victim and his/her family may have significant reason for an auto defect complaint.
An NHTSA reports that through 2007, at least 284 air bag deployment deaths occurred–about 180 of those that died were children. Common air bag injuries include eye injuries, neck injuries, facial injuries, injuries o the chest/stomach/upper extremities, and head injuries.
- Chrysler recall involves airbags in 919,000 SUVs, Christian Science Monitor, November 9, 2012
- Hyundai recalls more than 220,000 vehicles for potential air bags flaws, CNN, July 29, 2012
- Ford recalling 154,000 Fiesta subcompacts for air bag issue, Fox News/AP, October 16, 2012
Please contact the Gilbert Law Group and ask to speak with one of our experienced air bag defect attorneys.