As many as 12.3 million late-model cars may have defective airbags that won’t deploy in a crash, and as records indicate, at least eight people may have died as a result.
Vehicles from Acura, Dodge, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Mitsubishi, Ram, and Toyota are potentially affected.
If you purchased or leased any of the affected vehicles and would like more information about the class action, please contact Safirstein Metcalf LLP at 1-800-221-0015, or email info@SafirsteinMetcalf.com or fill out the form on the right.
Specifically, the affected vehicles are:
2012–2014 TSX, TSX sport wagon, and TL; 2015–2017 TLX; 2014–2019 RLX (including hybrid)
2012–2014 Ridgeline; 2012–2015 Civic (including natural gas and hybrid); 2012–2016 CR-V; 2012–2017 Fit and 2013–2014 Fit EV; 2013–2015 Accord and 2014–2014 Accord hybrid
2013–2019 Sonata (including hybrid)
2010–2012 Liberty; 2010–2018 Wrangler; 2015–2017 Compass and Patriot
2012–2016 Optima Hybrid; 2013 Forte and Forte Koup; 2013–2019 Optima; 2014 Sedona
2013 Outlander; 2013–2017 Lancer (including Evolution, Ralliart, and Sportback)
2009–2012 Ram 1500; 2010–2012 Ram 2500 and 3500; 2011–2012 Ram 4500 and 5500
2011–2013 Corolla Matrix; 2011–2019 Corolla; 2012–2017 Sequoia and Tundra; 2012–2018 Avalon (including hybrid); 2012–2019 Tacoma
In a number of instances, the vehicles have been involved in collisions where the airbags should have deployed but did not. Post-accident reports indicate that the airbag control unit malfunctioned after experiencing electrical overstress, which effectively disabled the system during the collision.
This defect has resulted in many injuries and at least eight reported fatalities:
a. In September 2016, Fiat-Chrysler, another automaker, reported three fatalities and five injuries resulting from crashes involving vehicles using airbag control units manufactured by ZF-TRW.
b. In March 2018, NHTSA reported four additional fatalities and six injuries resulting from crashes involving defective Hyundai or Kia vehicles using airbag control units manufactured by ZF-TRW.
c. In April 2019, NHTSA reported two more crashes, one fatal, involving defective Toyota vehicles using airbag control units manufactured by ZF-TRW.
Because the manufacturers have (allegedly) concealed the defect from dealerships, repair shops, and the public at large, it is likely that the defect is responsible for still more fatalities and injuries that have not yet been attributed to it.
On March 16, 2018, NHTSA formally opened a preliminary investigation into the airbag system failures in 2012-2013 Kia Forte and 2011 Hyundai Sonata vehicles. When it initiated the investigation, NHTSA described the problem as failure of the airbag control unit, resulting in nondeployment of the frontal airbags in the event of a crash. NHTSA explained that Hyundai’s post-collision inspection of four crashes showed electrical overstress of the airbag control unit in three crashes, and that the fourth crash was under evaluation for the same concern. While the investigation was initially constrained to the Sonata and Forte models, NHTSA said it would “determine if any other vehicle manufacturers used the same or similar ACUs, as supplied by ZF-TRW, and if so, evaluate whether the field experience of these vehicles indicates potentially related crash events.”
By April 19, 2019, NHTSA had ratcheted up the investigation from the preliminary phase to the next stage—known as the engineering analysis stage. In addition to advancing the investigation, NHTSA widened its scope to include all vehicles which are all equipped with airbag control units manufactured by ZF-TRW.
At least once in 2013 and again in 2015, ZF-TRW warned vehicle manufacturers of the potential for electrical overstress causing airbag systems to malfunction. In addition, since 2011, ZF-TRW has assisted Fiat-Chrysler, Kia, and Hyundai in investigating numerous crashes involving airbag system failures, frequently finding electrical overstress of the airbag control unit. Since 2011, numerous complaints of crashes involving Class Vehicles with airbag system failure have been reported to NHTSA.
Despite their investigations and knowing of numerous crashes, no automaker issued a recall until September 2016. Even then, the recalls have been insufficient.
On September 13, 2016, Fiat-Chrysler recalled approximately 1.4 million vehicles involving ZF-TRW airbag control units. This recall acknowledged that the airbags and seatbelt pretensioners could fail to deploy in the event of a crash, “due to a shorting condition resulting in a negative voltage transient that travels to the [airbag control unit] via the front impact sensor wires damaging [the airbag control unit].” Fiat-Chrysler required affected vehicle owners to bring their vehicles into an authorized dealer to have the airbag control unit replaced. As of January 28, 2019, Fiat-Chrysler reports that just 550,000 of the recalled vehicles have been repaired— fewer than half of the recalled vehicles.
On June 1, 2018, Kia recalled the 2010-2013 Forte and Forte Koup, 2011-2012 Optima Hybrid, 2011-2013 Optima, and 2011-2012 Sedona. Kia’s recall affected approximately 500,000 vehicles involving ZF-TRW airbag control units.
Like Fiat-Chrysler, Kia acknowledged that its vehicles had been equipped with airbag control units susceptible to electrical overstress, risking airbag nondeployment in the event of a collision: the “[airbag control units] may be susceptible to [electrical overstress] due to inadequate circuit protection.” Kia asked owners of affected vehicles to present their vehicles to dealerships for installation of an extension wire harness kit. As of April 15, 2019, Kia reports that fewer than 150,000 vehicles have been repaired—fewer than half of those recalled.
On October 5, 2018, Hyundai recalled the 2011-2013 Sonata and 2011-2012 Sonata Hybrid. Hyundai’s recall affected approximately 600,000 vehicles but did not recall the affected 2014-2019 Sonata and 2013-2019 Sonata Hybrid.
In issuing the recall, Hyundai stated that “the subject [airbag control units] could be susceptible to [electrical overstress] because [they] lack adequate circuit protection,” resulting in the failure of the airbags and seat belt pretensioners to deploy in certain frontal crash events. Hyundai asked owners to present their vehicles to dealerships to have an external wire filter kit installed. As of April 30, 2019, Hyundai reports that fewer than 210,000 recalled cars have been remedied.