NHTSA Probes 1.1 Million Vehicles in the U.S. Over Airbag Issues

Jun 12, 2014 04:05 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into 1.1 million vehicles in the U.S. for issues with airbags that could rupture during deployment.

The probe involves 2002-'06 vehicles released from Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Nissan and Mazda with parts supplied by Takata.

NHTSA is opening the investigation "in order to collect all known facts from the supplier and the vehicle manufacturers that many have manufactured vehicles equipped with inflators produced during the same period as those that have demonstrated rupture events in the field."

The probe was caused by six incidents involving 2002-'06 vehicles with airbag modules supplied by Takata.

The six incidents includes a complaint of a driver's airbag inflator rupture on a 2005 Honda Civic, a passenger's airbag rupture on a 2003 Toyota Corolla and a driver's airbag rupture on a 2005 Mazda 6.

The NHTSA has "discussed these incidents with Takata, the supplier of the airbags involved and with the affected vehicle manufacturers. In the course of its review, Takta identified two other incidents, one involving a passenger airbag rupture on a 2004 Nissan Sentra and a driver's airbag rupture on a 2006 Dodge Charger. Toyota also provided another passenger's airbag rupture on a 2002 Corolla. Of note, all six incidents occurred in a high absolute humidity climate (in Florida and Puerto Rico)."

A number of the manufacturers have conducted safety recalls for rupturing airbags, which includes a series of Honda recalls for a number of 2001-'04 vehicles.

Last year Honda, Toyota, BMW, Nissan and Mazda announced safety recalls to address passenger airbag ruptures in 2001-'04 models.

"Honda is aware that the NHTSA has initiated a Preliminary Evaluation involving a variety of manufacturers with models equipped with airbag modules supplied by Takata," said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman, according to Edmunds. "Honda will cooperate with the NHTSA through the investigation process and will continue our own internal review of the available information."

Specific vehicles have not been confirmed by the NHTSA yet.

Federal safety regulators opened what is called a "preliminary evaluation" into airbag inflator rupture in the 1.1 million vehicles. While no vehicles have been called back yet, such an action sometimes leads to a vehicle recall.

"We will continue to take steps to ensure the Takata airbag issue is thoroughly addressed in our vehicles, including through the recall we announce yesterday," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman, according to Edmunds. "We will cooperate with any NHTSA inquiry if asked."

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