Safety regulators in Canada and the United States are stepping up an investigation into airbag inflators produced by Tennessee’s ARC Automotive Inc. following the death of a Newfoundland woman.
In a July 8 crash, the airbag in her 2009 Hyundai Elantra ruptured, sending shrapnel into the car’s cabin and killing her. According to the Reuters news agency, that was the third incident involving injuries caused by ARC airbag components; the vehicles involved in the other two were a 2002 Chrysler Town & Country and a 2004 Kia Optima. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says ARC airbag inflators have gone into at least eight million vehicles sold by Hyundai, Kia, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors.
While the situation sounds eerily like that surrounding the Takata airbags linked to 13 deaths and more than 100 injuries, the supposed ARC airbag flaw is different. Though the end result is unfortunately similar, the ARC investigation is looking into a manufacturing flaw that leaves the rapidly expanding gas in the inflator nowhere to go and causes it to rupture. In the Takata airbags, the ammonia nitrate used to inflate them degrades over time and then ignites too quickly.
ARC airbag inflators are manufactured in the United States and China.
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