Infiniti SUV recall marks latest chapter in Takata airbag sagaFri, 31 Oct 2014 17:43:00 EST
Automotive parts maker Takata is having a rough year with millions of vehicles equipped with its airbag inflators being recalled. However, it looks like there might still be problems with the company's quality control, if a new recall by Infiniti is any indication.
The Japanese luxury brand is recalling 1,912 total units of the 2013 Infiniti QX56 and 2014 QX80 in North America because of a manufacturing flaw with their Takata-supplied inflators for the driver's side front airbag. Of those, 1,848 are in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, the outer baffle could be the wrong component and cause too much pressure to build up inside. According to documents submitted to NHTSA, it's possible in a crash for the part to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. At this time, Infiniti has not had any reports of this actually happening to drivers.
While this problem sounds nearly identical to the issue affecting millions of earlier vehicles, it must be noted that this is a different fault. According to the notice being sent to dealers on NHTSA's website: "This particular Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign is unrelated to two earlier campaigns that involved Takata passenger front air bag inflators on some older model Infiniti vehicles. This issue involves a much newer inflator and is a different, more isolated, Takata quality control issue."
Unfortunately, the parts to fix the vehicles aren't yet ready. According to Infiniti, it should be four or five weeks from when it submitted this recall to NHTSA on October 23 before vehicles can be repaired. According to the letter to dealers, concerned owners can ask for a loaner vehicle in the meantime.
This latest campaign comes at the worst possible time for Takata. According to Reuters, it's already having trouble supplying replacement parts for its other inflator recall. NHTSA is also asking automakers to keep testing the parts for faults, and if more problems are found, they should expand the campaigns even further.
According to Automotive News, NHTSA is sending 36 questions to Takata that it must answer by December 1 or face a fine of up to $35 million. It includes requests for documents pertaining to the recalls, a report of every death or injury and the company's production capacity to build inflators. The agency did something similar with GM's ignition switch recall earlier this year. Scroll down to read Infiniti's statement on the recall and NHTSA's report.
Infiniti is conducting a Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign to replace the driver's side air bag inflator in 1,912 2013 QX56 and 2014 QX80 full-size luxury sport utility vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The subject inflators may have been incorrectly assembled, and in the event of a crash may cause abnormal deployment of the driver's air bag. Infiniti is unaware of any injuries that may have been caused by this issue. Infiniti plans to notify potentially affected customers by mid-November, asking them to bring their vehicles to an authorized retailer for the driver's side air bag to be replaced. The repair is expected to take less than an hour, depending on the retailer's work schedule. While we regret any inconvenience this campaign brings to our owners, the safety and satisfaction of our customers is Infiniti's highest priority.
RECALL Subject : Driver's Frontal Air Bag Inflator may Rupture Report
Receipt Date: OCT 24, 2014
NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V668000
Component(s): AIR BAGS
Potential Number of Units Affected: 1,848
All Products Associated with this Recall
Vehicle Make Mode lModel Year(s)
INFINITI QX56 2013
INFINITI QX80 2014
Manufacturer: Nissan North America, Inc.
Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2013 Infiniti QX56 vehicles manufactured September 1, 2012, to April 26, 2013, and 2014 Infiniti QX80 vehicles manufactured June 18, 2013, to February 11, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the driver's frontal air bag inflator may have been manufactured with an incorrect part.
In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver's air bag, the incorrect part may block the flow of propellant to the air bag and the air bag's inflator may rupture. The rupture could cause metal fragments to strike and potentially seriously injure the vehicle occupants.
Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front driver air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall will begin by late December 2014. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
By Chris Bruce
See also: Infiniti Q50 to enter British Touring Car Championship, Six luxury-car features I'm ashamed to admit I love, Infiniti Q80 Inspiration imagines future of brand's luxury flagship.