Skip to main content

Recalls happen. They aren’t great for customers or manufacturers, but they are a reality. While we have come to expect them from time to time, especially in the automotive world, the continuous stream of airbag recalls is starting to feel a bit funny, not haha funny, but strange funny. The Takata airbag situation is a mess, but is there more? What’s going on with airbag recalls? Why are there so many? And, what is the most recent airbag recall? 

Takata airbag deployed, part of a recall
Deployed airbag | Joe Readle, Getty Images

What is the most recent airbag recall? 

According to CarScoops, another major airbag recall might be in the works. The NHTSA says that roughly 67 million cars on American roads need a new airbag inflator. 

The regulatory group is fighting both the carmakers and airbag inflator companies on this most recent airbag recall event. The issue with the inflators covers a span of 12 automotive manufacturers who all use the same questionable part. GM, one of the OEMs in question, just issued an open recall for the airbag inflator, yet the inflator company and other carmakers are fighting back. 

Which airbag inflators are being recalled? 

The company catching hell is ARC of Tennessee. This isn’t the brand’s first time in hot water with NHTSA. In fact, in 2015, CarScoops mentioned that ARC was under investigation after two injuries were caused by ARC airbag inflators. Since that initial investigation, other reports have surfaced, some even being fatal. The NHSTA commented on the potential danger:

“ARC’s inflator design is such that during a triggered deployment, the stored gas, excited by the propellant, has a single path through the exit orifice to exit the inflator and fill the airbag cushion. Should any debris of sufficient size be in the inflator center support, the exit orifice could become blocked. Blockage of the exit orifice could cause over-pressurization of the airbag inflator. Over pressurization of the inflator has the potential to cause it to rupture,  resulting in metal fragments being forcefully propelled into the passenger compartment.”

Which car manufacturers have ARC airbag inflators?

The NHSTA said that four of the twelve companies have already issued recalls for the ARC inflators;  GM, Ford, BMW, and VW. Others who have not issued recalls yet are Stellantis, Hyundai, and Kia. Keep in mind brands like VW and Stellantis cover a wide range of brands. 

Despite the four companies who have issued airbag recalls, the NHTSA notes that not a single one of these ARC inflators ruptured during the testing of more than 900 airbags in 2018. However, the investigation points out seven instances where a driver experienced serious injury or death due to a faulty ARC inflator. 

Despite what anyone thinks about the details of the investigation, CarScoops says that the announcement came alongside a new recall from GM on 994,763 vehicles with ARC airbag inflators. The models affected include Buick Enclaves, Chevrolet Traverses, and GMC Acadias from model years 2014-2017. Owners can contact their local dealer or the NHTSA to see if their vehicle is affected. 

Why do airbags keep getting recalled?

According to NHTSA, the largest automotive recalls of all time involve faulty airbags. It stands to reason that something like this should happen. Think about it, since 1999, every new vehicle on the road had to have airbags. This safety feature, like many others, is only made by a handful of manufacturers who supply the goods to all carmakers. This massive supply can be easily messed up since one company is supplying many carmakers. Not to mention, it is the only safety device that requires a small explosion to make work. That is bound to come with some issues. First Takata and now ARC. It’s easy to see how one company supplying so many parts to so many other companies has a chance of making for a massive recall.