7 auto makers named in class action suit over air bag control unitSeptember 20, 2019
(KNXV) — Crashes happen.
Almost every car has built-in safety features, like seat belts and air bags; some even have more technology aimed at giving drivers peace of mind when behind the wheel that they’ll be protected in a crash.
It’s what the Perry family said they hoped would help 23-year-old Kamiya Perry, when her car flipped while on a road trip to California in April.
“She didn’t know anything about the accident,” her mother, DeAna Perry said. “Her language was way different, she spoke different, she behaved drastically different.”
Kamiya, she says, suffered a traumatic brain injury in April after she and her brother crashed on their way to a family get-together in California. Her brother, according to the Perry family, was driving, and tried to make a U-turn, causing the crash.
“She is not as outgoing, before this, she was a go-getter,” Perry added. “Now, she needs a lot of supervision and she’s more child-like.”
The crash itself was damaging, but Kamiya’s family didn’t see any indication any of the air bags inside her 2015 Kia Forte went off, making her injuries even more severe.
“There was a fury that came in because perhaps this could’ve been prevented,” said Perry.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating at least 15 crashes where drivers reported air bags failed to deploy. The issue stemming from the part tasked with controlling the safety restraint systems in a car: the air bag control unit.
“The Air Bag Control Unit (ACU) senses a vehicle crash to determine whether air bag deployment is required,” according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation launched a probe into certain Kia models in 2018, after several reports of similar crashes where drivers said air bags failed to deploy. Two crashes involved 2012 and 2013 model year Kia Fortes. In 2018, NHTSA said it was aware of six crashes. In total, the crashes resulted in four fatalities and six injuries. That investigation expanded this year.
“These control units may suffer electrical over-stress due to harmful signals produced by the crash event, causing the unit to stop working during the crash,” outlined a 2019 NHTSA report.
In July, NHTSA reached out to seven major automakers: Kia, Honda, Acura, Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler/Fiat asking for more information on cars they’ve sold, or complaints they’ve received for vehicles equipped with an air bag control unit manufactured by ZF-TRW.
“Assessment of these incidents found that at least five (5) of the vehicles experienced confirmed damage to the vehicle electrical system during the crash, which produced electrical over-stress (EOS) damage to an internal ACU component, specifically an application specific integrated unit circuit (ASIC). In these confirmed incidents, the EOS failure of the ASIC subsequently prevented deployment of one or more air bags and/or other restraint system components during the crash event,”…