The problem occurs when the airbag is activated because of a crash. Fragments of the inflator inside the airbag may, in certain cases, project out and in the worst-case strike an occupant, potentially resulting in serious injury or death, the company told U.S. safety regulators.
Geely-owned Volvo, which recently confirmed plans to go public, is aware of one rupture incident that resulted in a fatality due to the problem, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The vehicles impacted are older-model Volvos. They include the 2001-2006 S80 and 2001-2009 S60. The vehicles were produced between May 2000 and March 2009.
More than half of the vehicles — 259,383 — were sold in the U.S.
Volvo said the problem occurs over time if the airbag inflator propellant tablets are subjected to elevated moisture levels and frequent high inflator temperatures. The tablets can start to decay and form dust particles, which increases the pressure and “burn rate” of the devices. Those factors could cause the inflator to rupture and spray metal fragments at occupants.
“In the event of a crash where the driver airbag is activated, fragments of the inflator inside the airbag may, in certain cases, project out and in worst case strike you, potentially resulting in serious injury or death,” according to Volvo.
To fix the problem, Volvo will replace the driver airbag at no charge to the customer. It plans to notify impacted owners as soon as next month to fix the vehicles.
Volvo did not disclose an expected cost to replace the airbags, which can be expensive. A massive recall of 67 million airbags from Japanese auto supplier Takata cost the auto industry billions of dollars and caused the company to file for bankruptcy.
The airbag components in the Volvo vehicles were supplied by Sweden-based AutoLiv and German auto supplier ZF, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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Source: NBC News