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NHTSA Investigates Defective ZF-TRW Airbags Linked to Several Deaths

April 30, 2019
Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a Miami-based trial firm seeking to improve awareness on issues related to the safety and well-being of our community. Our legal knowledge, decades of experience and presence in the community are among the top reasons clients choose us to help them. For more information, speak with a car defect attorney at our firm. 

An announcement recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on April 19, 2019, stated that the agency will be expanding an investigation into the defective ZF-TRW airbags control units. The ZF-TRW airbags units have been linked to several car accident deaths in the past three years.

NHTSA Investigates the ZF-TRW Airbag

The investigation into the ZF-TRW airbag control units, produced by the supplier ZF-TRW (ZF), was upgraded to an “engineering analysis” and expanded to now include the auto manufacturers that used the defective airbags in their cars.

The defect found in the airbag control unit is reported to be within its electronic component, called Application Specific Integrated Circuit or ASIC. The ASIC monitors the signals from the crash sensors for the purpose of responding with the proper airbag deployment in the event of a car crash.

Currently, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) believes that, while the chances of it happening are low, a car crash could be responsible for producing the harmful signals which damage the ASIC. The NHTSA report mentions, the ASIC “may suffer electrical overstress due to harmful signals produced by the crash event.”

Investigators state in the report that there is electrical circuity incorporated within the ACU that protects the ASIC from harmful signals. However, the level of protection ultimately depends on the auto manufacturer.

Vehicles Affected by Potentially Defective Airbags

ZF supplied the airbag control units to six auto manufacturers: Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Fiat Chrysler Automotive and Toyota. These manufacturers collectively installed the ZF-TRW airbag control units in approximately 12.3 million vehicles over the past decade.

ZF-TRW Airbag Recalls

According to the Washington Post, Kia and Hyundai recalled nearly 1.1 million vehicles last year due to the ZF-TRW airbags. Fiat Chrysler recalled approximately 1.9 million vehicles worldwide in 2016. To date, only Hyundai, Fiat Chrysler, and Kia have issued recalls for this defect.

Recalled models include:

  • 2010 to 2013 Kia Forte
  • 2011 to 2013 Kia Optima
  • 2011 and 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid and Sedona
  • 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • 2010 Chrysler Sebring
  • 2011 to 2014 Chrysler 200
  • 2010 to 2012 Dodge Caliber
  • 2010 to 2014 Dodge Avenger
  • 2010 to 2014 Jeep Patriot and Compass
  • 2012 and 2013 Lancia Flavia

Not sure if your car is one of 12.3 million? Check the NHTSA VIN Search Tool to see if this potential safety issue or any recalls have been noted for your vehicle.

Ask Our Car Defect Attorney

According to the Associated Press (AP), eight deaths have been tied to these potentially defective airbag control units. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a car defect, consider contacting our car defect attorneys at 305-476-7400. You can also fill out our online case review form for a free consultation.

At Colson Hicks Eidson, we have experience handling cases involving defective airbags. Our partner, Curtis Miner, was appointed Lead Counsel for the Personal Injury Track by the Federal Court overseeing the litigation involving defective Takata airbags, which involves the largest automotive recall in US history.  Our firm has been handling lawsuits against car manufacturers for decades and has helped hundreds of clients resolve claims based on defects in cars.