The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is threatening a mandatory recall of more than 52 million vehicle airbags manufactured by ARC Automotive, Inc. and Delphi Systems, LLC between 2001 and 2017. The announcement comes after an eight-year NHTSA investigation found a design defect that presents an “unreasonable risk of death and injury.”

The agency reports that the front driver and passenger airbag deflators manufactured by ARC contain a design defect causing a blockage of the gas release, which can lead to an explosion and seriously injuring the vehicle’s occupants with projected metal fragments.

ARC claims the NHTSA is overstepping its legal authority and has thus far refused to recall its airbags voluntarily, denying liability and shifting responsibility for initiating recalls onto auto manufacturers who installed the airbags. Auto manufacturers who installed ARC airbags include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai, and Kia.

Delphi Systems ceased production in 2004 after manufacturing approximately 11 million airbags under an ARC license. The NHTSA has not yet initiated a recall of Delphi Systems airbags but believes they are also flawed.

A recent class action lawsuit names both ARC and automotive manufacturers for knowingly selling vehicles with defective airbags that resulted in multiple cases of severe injuries and death. The suit also alleges that ARC airbag inflators burn too quickly and explode when the ammonium nitrate propellant tablets are exposed to moisture.

The ARC-manufactured inflators allegedly caused at least seven explosions in the United States after twice exploding during safety testing. According to the lawsuit, these incidents demonstrate that manufacturers were aware of the risks and, therefore, liable.

The NHTSA estimates that one in every 370,000 airbag deployments results in serious injuries, recommending a recall of over 50 million ARC airbag inflators used by auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz between 2000 to 2018. The agency is calling for a total recall – the largest in U.S. history – due to no method of identifying which airbag inflators are defective.

ARC denounces any recall of its inflators, claiming the incidences were “isolated and not indicative of a systemic defect” following an internal investigation and additional testing.

If a vehicle airbag has injured you or a loved one, contact Rubenstein & Rynecki today at 718-522-1020 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Brooklyn, New York, we serve clients throughout New York City, including The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.