NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Potential VW Airbag Defects
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into a recall involving an alleged defect involving eight Volkswagen models that could cause the front driver airbag to fail to deploy during a car accident. According to a Law360 news report, NHTSA sent out a nine-page letter to the German automaker stating that it is looking into a 2015 recall involving alleged steering control model failures affecting about 415,825 vehicles. The investigation is a “recall query” which essentially looks into whether the scope of the recall should be expanded.
Airbags May Fail to Deploy
The affected vehicle models include 2010-2014 model year CCs and Passats, 2010-2013 Eos, 2011-2014 Golfs, GTIs, Jettas and Tiguans and 2012-2014 Jetta Sportswagens. The federal agency has asked VW to respond to the letter with all requested documents by Jan. 16. The reports have said alleged failures happen during normal driving conditions and that upon failure, the airbag warning light turns on and the performance of the front driver’s side airbag is compromised to the point that it may not deploy in the event of a crash. NHTSA has received 90 reports regarding this issue.
NHTSA says the control module failure has sometimes been preceded by a noise from the steering column. Officials say other steering wheel controls such as the horn and cruise control may also stop working. In its 2015 recall notice, NHTSA said that in these affected vehicles, debris may get into the area that holds the airbag clock spring, a cable that keeps the airbag powered while the steering wheel is being turned. The debris may cause the cable to tear thereby resulting in loss of electrical power to the airbag.
Recent Auto Defect Issues
Earlier this year, Audi (also a member of the VW group) recalled more than 600,000 vehicles because of an airbag defect that could injure or kill passengers with shrapnel and coolant pumps, which posed a fire hazard. NHTSA records also show that 234,000 Audi Q5 crossover SUVs (model years 2011-2017) also needed to be recalled to replace side curtain airbag canisters that could corrode and explode sending shrapnel into the vehicle compartment.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an auto defect, it would be in your best interest to preserve the vehicle in its current condition, unaltered, so an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects, malfunctions and design flaws. Injured victims of vehicle defects can seek compensation by filing a product liability lawsuit against the automaker or the manufacturer of the faulty part. An experienced auto product liability attorney can help injured victims and their families better understand their legal rights and options.