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NHTSA Pushes for Second Recall of 2.1 Million Vehicles with New Air Bag Problems

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If you get a recall notice for your vehicle and you take it in to get it fixed, you probably expect that once that repair is completed, the problem is solved, and you can go on driving your vehicle without fear of unexpected issues.

Not necessarily, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On January 31, 2015, they pushed for a recall of 2.1 million vehicles that had already been recalled once before for air bag problems. Why the repeat? The initial fix didn’t work, and now the auto manufacturers want a second chance to get it right.

Second Recall Attempts to Solve Another Air Bag Problem

The problem? Air bags that deploy for seemingly no reason. Vehicle owners have reported incidences in which the air bags deployed while the driver was just going down the road. Mark Rosekind, administrator of the NHTSA, noted that about 400 of these incidences have been identified—about 39 of those occurred in vehicles that had already been fixed for air bag problems, supposedly.

Between 2012 and 2014, automakers implemented recalls to address an issue with an electronic component in the air bags. Manufactured by TMW Automotive, a U.S. company, the component was believed to be causing air bags to deploy when they weren’t supposed to.

The original fix, according to the New York Times, “involved installing an electronic filter to try and protect the component.” Apparently the repair didn’t work, because there have been nearly 40 incidences in which air bags that had been repaired still deployed incorrectly. The new fix will involve completely replacing the component.

Further complicating the issue is that many of the vehicles involved in this second recall (Toyotas and Hondas) are also affected by Takata air bag recalls, which have been implemented to repair issues concerning Takata inflators. These have been reported to deploy with too much force, causing the air bag to explode and shoot shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle. Alleged victims have suffered serious injuries, including knife-like stab wounds, vision and hearing loss, scarring, and excessive blood loss leading to death.

Indeed, some of the nearly 40 incidences of inadvertent air bag deployments that occurred after the first round of repairs involved Takata air bags, and resulted in injuries to vehicle occupants, including scratches and burns.

It seems in vehicles that have both TMW components and Takata inflators, the risk is especially serious. The NHTSA has urged consumers to get their vehicles repaired as soon as possible.

The vehicles included in this second recall include:

• 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty
• 2002-2004 Grand Cherokee
• 2003-2004 Honda Odyssey
• 2003 Acura MDX
• 2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe
• 2003-2004 Dodge Viper
• 2003-2004 Toyota Corolla
• 2003-2004 Toyota Matrix
• 2003-2004 Toyota Avalon

Repairs Will Cause More Inconvenience for Consumers

Consumers hoping to get their vehicles repaired once and for all will likely be disappointed, as according to the NHTSA, the only thing available right now is a “temporary fix.” While not permanent, it will help reduce risk of a inadvertent air bag deployment. Permanent repairs aren’t expected to be available for several months, as automakers scramble to get enough parts to meet demand.