In recent weeks, multiple auto companies have sent out recall notices for thousands of vehicles due to issues surrounding the ARC airbag inflators. Then earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) released a letter detailing why they are demanding ARC Automotive Inc.(ARC) of Knoxville, Tennessee, recall the airbags with the inflators. With so much information currently circulating in the U.S., below we have provided you with the ten things you need to know about the ARC recall.
1. Why Are the Airbag Inflators Recalled?
Based on currently available information provided by the NHTSA, the ARC airbag inflators have a defect that exists in the frontal driver and four passenger seat airbags. The issue reported comes from the inflators that, after an accident, they can project metal fragments into vehicle occupants rather than properly inflating the attached airbag. With this defect, the ARC inflators pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury that could result from an item of the motor vehicle equipment that, when not defective, is designed to save lives.
2. How Many Airbag Inflators Have Been Recalled?
According to the letter by the NHTSA, they are demanding that ARC recall 67 million inflators in the U.S. alone. However, the inflators that have been installed in vehicles outside of the U.S., like Canada and Turkey, could increase the number.
3. Which Vehicles Have Been Impacted?
The recall covers a large portion of the 284 million vehicles now on U.S. roads. However, currently, the number of vehicles impacted is difficult to determine, as depending on the vehicle, some have the ARC inflators for both the driver and the front passenger seats. Neither the NHTSA nor ARC nor the automakers have released a full list of affected models.
4. What Remedies Are Available for Me?
Multiple automotive companies who have decided to issue a recall for their vehicles that come equipped with the ARC airbags have offered their drivers repairs or replacements at no cost to them. Some companies have even offered their drivers a temporary car swap while they wait for further instructions on what they can do regarding the ARC inflators. To learn more about the remedies available, drivers are encouraged to contact their car's manufacturer.
5. What Injuries Have Been Reported?
It has been reported that at least two people have been killed in the U.S. and Canada, and seven others have been hurt due to the defective ARC inflators. Injuries due to the airbags continue to come in, some as recent as the last few years. Reported in 2021 in Pennsylvania, a driver suffered head and facial injuries, and another in California, an airbag exploded in an Audi A3 e-tron. Then again, in March of this year, a 28-year-old woman was hospitalized after her vehicle crashed into a signpost. Then when the airbag in her 2017 Chevy Traverse SUV burst, it resulted in neck and face injuries.
6. The NHTSA's Eight-Year Investigation
The investigation began in mid-2015 after regulators received a pair of complaints about drivers being seriously injured. Over the years, the NHTSA has overviewed field tests of the faulty inflators and examined details of incidents in which the devices ruptured, connecting the issues with the defective ARC airbag inflators. Currently, ARC disagrees with the NHTSA’s reports, as they believe the issues with the airbags have resulted from random 'one-off' manufacturing anomalies that they claimed have been properly addressed by vehicle manufacturers through lot-specific recalls.
7. Who Has Issued a Recall Due to the ARC Airbag Inflators?
Most recently, General Motors has recalled nearly 1 million vehicles fitted with inflators from ARC, such as the carmaker's 2014-2017 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia SUVs. However, over the years, multiple auto companies have released recalls concerning the defective ARC inflators like Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Company, and BMW AG.
8. Lawsuits Over the ARC Airbags
In 2022, lawsuits were filed against ARC Automotive Inc., General Motors, Volkswagen, and Ford regarding the ARC airbag inflators. Then more recently, the Beaudoin family brought the lawsuit against ARC Automotive after Marlene Beaudoin passed away after being involved in a car crash where the reports showed that pieces of the airbag inflator, the steering wheel, and the column from the Chevy Traverse she had been driving had pierced her chest, neck, and head. Other lawsuits are still pending over injuries sustained due to the ARC airbag inflators. Contacting an attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to join a lawsuit.
9. Are the ARC and Takata Airbags Issues the Same?
While related in the fact that both ARC and Takata used ammonium nitrate to inflate airbags, the difference in the cases comes from where the risk of injury stems from. The Takata airbags used inflators that possess a chemical compound that can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity, causing explosions, fires, and other damages. ARC's problem appears to derive from a manufacturing defect.
10. Our Attorneys Are Standing By
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys are ready to help those who have been injured or those who have lost loved ones fight back against major automotive companies. Those who have suffered damages due to an ARC airbag inflator can contact our law firm today to learn more about how we can help your case. Connect with us today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.