Tennessee-based ARC Automotive now under investigation for ruptured airbags affecting Texas drivers.
On July 8th, a Canadian driver was killed in a low-speed collision that she should have easily been able to walk away from (TheStar.com). However, when the driver’s side airbag triggered during the collision the inflator exploded while it was inflating the airbag. The very thing that should have kept her safe killed her.
Given the fact that the propellant used in many ARC airbag inflaters, ammonium nitrate, is the same propellant that has led to the massive recall of Takata airbags, American regulators have begun to review these airbags as well:
“American regulators are investigating hybrid airbag inflaters made by ARC that use both a gas and an explosive compound called ammonium nitrate. The agency had opened a preliminary inquiry into at least eight million airbag inflaters made by ARC for use in Chrysler, General Motors, Kia and Hyundai cars through 2004, but the formal investigation will go beyond that population of inflaters. The agency was still determining the number of airbags affected, it said.
Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the agency, said the ARC airbag inflaters had not been recalled, but said a safety recall was “one possible outcome” of the investigation.” (New York Times)
Not the First Time for ARC
ARC Automotive was already the focus of a preliminary investigation in the United States last year because of a 2009 accident. In that incident, an ARC airbag ruptured when the vehicle in which it was installed hit a snowmobile. According to the Insurance Journal:
“Documents show that the Chrysler incident with an ARC inflator happened Jan. 29, 2009, in Ashtabula, Ohio. A man complained in writing to NHTSA that his wife was hurt by shrapnel when the airbag deployed after their minivan collided with a snowmobile. “Most of the shrapnel went into her chest, with the airbag plate breaking apart, striking her in the chin, breaking her jaw in three places,” wrote the man, who was not identified. An ambulance crew saved her from bleeding to death, he wrote.”
Currently, both American and Canadian regulators are working together to complete their separate investigations into ARC Automotive’s airbags.