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NHTSA probes airbag inflators from ARC Automotive used in Chrysler, Kia

Staff writer |
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation of airbag inflators made by ARC Automotive for rupture.

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In December of 2014 the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) received a complaint of a 2009 incident involving a driver's side air bag inflator rupture in a model year 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

ODI contacted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and conducted a search for similar incidents and, based on information obtained from FCA and the results of the search, concluded that the 2009 incident was a single isolated event.

In June of 2015, Kia notified ODI of a lawsuit alleging driver side inflator rupture in a MY 2004 Kia Optima. ODI investigation revealed that both the 2009 and 2014 incidents involved an inflator supplied by ARC Automotive.

ARC manufactures inflators that other companies use in air bag modules that are then sold to vehicle manufacturers.

The incident involving the 2002 Chrysler Town and Country occurred in Ohio and involved an air bag module produced by Key Safety Systems that had a dual stage ARC inflator.

Preliminary analysis indicates that the exhaust path for the inflation gas mixture may have been blocked by an object of indeterminate origin. This blockage appears to have caused high internal pressure and subsequent rupture of the inflator assembly.

ODI's present understanding is that this incident is the only known inflator rupture involving the ARC inflator in an FCA vehicle. The incident involving the 2004 Kia Optima occurred in New Mexico. The air bag module in question was manufactured by Delphi and had a single stage ARC inflator. The root cause of the rupture is presently unknown.

Presently, this is the only known incident involving the subject inflator in a Kia vehicle.

The affected population consists of approximately 420,000 MY 2002 Chrysler Town and Country and 70,000 MY 2004 Kia Optima vehicles.

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