US opens investigation of airbag ruptures
US safety regulators are investigating whether 1.
1 million vehicles from five car makers have airbags that could hurt people in a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it opened the probe on Wednesday after getting six reports of airbags rupturing. Three people were hurt when struck by airbags or parts, but the injuries were not life-threatening. Ruptured airbags also do not protect people in crashes.
Vehicles from the 2002 through 2006 model years made by Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Chrysler and Toyota are being investigated.
All have airbags made by parts supplier Takata Corp, which is based in Japan. Takata said it was co-operating in the investigation.
NHTSA said that starting in August 2013, it received complaints of airbags rupturing from drivers of a Honda Civic, a Toyota Corolla and a Mazda 6. Takata reported complaints from drivers of a Nissan Sentra and Dodge Charger, according to NHTSA documents.
The safety agency says the incidents happened in Florida or Puerto Rico, where humidity is high.
The agency said several manufacturers recently recalled vehicles for rupturing airbags, and it was investigating to find out what other vehicles had the same inflators.
In one complaint in August, a Honda driver’s lawyer told NHTSA the car was in a crash, and both driver and passenger airbags inflated. The driver’s airbag inflator ruptured “and propelled a one-inch piece of shrapnel into the driver’s right eye”.
The driver lost sight and suffered cuts requiring 100 stitches, the complaint said.
On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp said it would recall 2.27 million vehicles worldwide to fix similar problems with front passenger airbag inflators. About 2.14 million of the cars were recalled in 2013 for a similar problem, but the fix was incomplete.
The company, the world’s biggest auto maker, said the initial recall was based on incomplete serial numbers from Takata.
The inflators contained improperly made propellant that could cause them to work abnormally, and possibly cause fires, in a crash. Toyota said it had received one report of a burn on a seat cover from faulty airbag deployment.