According to NHTSA, there were 87 reports involving air bag inadvertent deployment from consumers. Fifty of these incidents allegedly resulted in injury. A slim majority of the cases (45) involved both the driver and passenger frontal air bags inadvertently deploying without a crash. Chrysler claims that no accidents resulted from these deployments.
The unexpected air bag deployments happened both while on the road and during startup, says NHTSA, which reports that “some owners noted that the air bag warning light had illuminated, or had intermittently illuminated, and that this occurred just prior to the air bag deployment.”
Chrysler’s investigation into the matter found that an internal electronic circuit which controls air bag deployment fails due to an electrical over stress condition possibly caused by a transient voltage spike. It is looking into the root cause of the problem.
The car maker says there have been no reports of inadvertent air bag deployment in vehicles manufactured after a March 19, 2003 production date. But NHTSA points out that Chrysler has not yet identified a component or other change that would explain why the inadvertent deployments ceased. Thus, NHTSA is continuing to look into the matter.
Chrysler will soon begin notifying owners of affected vehicles. The actual repairs, which will involve installing an electric filter that should fix the problem, are expected to begin in January.