The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has upgraded its investigation into certain air bag inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive Inc., which are used by a number of automobile manufacturers. This upgrade came after a driver was killed in Canada in July after an air bag rupture.
NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is upgrading its preliminary evaluation of the air bag inflators, which it opened in July 2015, to an engineering analysis. The agency said about 8 million inflators were manufactured to be used in automobiles made by Chrysler, General Motors, Kia and Hyundai through 2004. NHTSA, in its announcement of the upgrade, said:
ODI’s investigation will focus on determining the entire U.S. population of ARC-manufactured driver air bag inflators, single- and dual-stage, identification of affected vehicle manufacturers, and whether any single-stage driver air bag inflators manufactured at ARC’s facility in China were used in vehicles produced for sale or lease in the United States. Additionally, ODI will conduct a program to recover the subject ARC inflators from vehicles in the field for further testing and evaluation in support of root cause analysis.
NHTSA launched its preliminary investigation after receiving two reports that ARC air bag inflators ruptured and caused injury, one involving a 2002 Chrysler Town & Country and another involving a 2004 Kia Optima. The investigation initially projected that 420,000 Chrysler Town & Country minivans could be affected along with 70,000 2004 Kia Optima vehicles. During the course of the preliminary investigation. NHTSA found that the affected inflators also affected certain GM and Hyundai vehicles.
NHTSA said in July it was told by Transport Canada — a Canadian transportation regulator — that an air bag ruptured in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra, killing the driver. It said the inflator was manufactured by ARC and ruptured in relatively the same way the inflators did in the two prior incidents mentioned above. NHTSA said the driver air bag module in the Elantra used a single-stage inflator made by ARC’s China facility.
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