U.S. Probes 12 Million Vehicles Over Risk Air Bags Won't Deploy

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a possible deadly flaw in some 12.3 million vehicles that could prevent air bags from deploying in a crash.

The agency is examining air-bag control units supplied by parts maker ZF-TRW that could fail due to “electrical overstress” and prevent air bags and seat belt pretensioners from activating as normal in a crash, NHTSA said in a notice on its website Tuesday.

The move is a significant expansion of the preliminary probe NHTSA began last year, which initially focused on certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles. The widening inquiry adds autos made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. from model years 2010 through 2019.

NHTSA said it’s identified two substantial crashes -- including one that resulted in a fatality -- in which air bags didn’t deploy in Toyota cars and that electrical overstress is the suspected cause. In an emailed statement, Toyota said it’s cooperating with NHTSA’s analysis, investigating the issue and will take appropriate action.

Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles with the affected air bag control units in 2016, and
NHTSA said it hasn’t found related failures on other vehicles made by the company. An FCA
spokesman said the company will cooperate with NHTSA’s investigation.

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