In recent years, more than one airbag recall has affected millions of vehicles in the U.S., mostly related to units produced by a company called Takata. However, that proverbial nightmare continues for automakers and consumers after Ford was one of several automakers named as defendants in a lawsuit claiming air bag inflators supplied by ARC Automotive Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee are also defective, which prompted an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That same agency announced that it’s looking to force a recall for these units back in September, and now, some automakers are pushing back against that potential action, according to Reuters.
Ford is among the group opposing this potential airbag recall affecting units produced by ARC Automotive and Delphi Automotive, along with some of its counterparts – General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Thus far, one death and seven injuries have been reported as a result of these defective airbags, which can rupture and send metal fragments flying. If a recall is issued, it would be the second-largest in U.S. history, as it spans around 52 million vehicles produced between 2000 and 2018.
Regardless, the aforementioned automakers are pushing back against a proposed recall due to “exceedingly small” risks poised by these defective airbags, and are also questioning the NHTSA’s analysis and rationale for such a move. ARC has also said that given the NHTSA’s estimated failure rate, there would be less than one new rupture over the next 33 years, adding that the agency’s “record is devoid of any evidence, let alone credible evidence, that a systemic defect exists.”
The problem with ARC’s inflators stems from the use of ammonium nitrate, which is utilized as a secondary propellant to inflate the airbags. That propellant is pressed into tablets that can, when exposed to moisture, develop tiny holes, enlarging their surface area, which can cause them to burn too fast and cause a larger-than-expected explosion that can blow apart a metal canister housing the chemical at such a violent rate that metal shards can be sent flying through the cabin.