NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Defective Airbags Following Numerous Recalls

Just a day after Toyota re-issued a 2013 recall because shrapnel could fly toward passengers when the airbag deploys, federal regulators opened an investigation into whether the airbags used by five automakers could hurt people in the event of a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened the probe after receiving six reports of airbags rupturing in Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda and Chrysler vehicles, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Since August 2013, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigations received three complaints concerning airbag ruptures in a 2005 Honda Civic, a 2003 Toyota Corolla and a 2005 Mazda 6.

According to NHTSA documents [PDF], regulators then received two additional reports of ruptured airbags in a 2004 Nissan Sentra and a 2006 Dodge Charger from airbag supplier Takata. Additionally, Toyota reported another passenger airbag rupture in a 2002 Toyota Corolla. In all, three people reported being injured by the airbags or its parts.

Investigators say all of the incidents occurred in the high absolute humidity climate in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Officials with Takata, who supplied the airbags for the affected vehicles, tell the Chronicle the company is cooperating in the investigation.

Back in 2013, Toyota, Honda and Nissan recalled more than 3.4 million vehicles because of abnormally deploying airbags supplied by Takata.

The new NHTSA investigation seeks to collect information from Takata and the vehicle manufacturers to determine if other vehicles contain the defect.

Probe of air bags opened [The San Francisco Chronicle]