Volkswagen is recalling more than 54,000 of its Atlas Cross Sport SUVs from the 2020 and 2021 model years because faulty airbags fitted on the vehicles may unexpectedly deploy even if there is no collision.
According to Consumer Reports, the problem has been attributed to a poorly manufactured part within the vehicles’ air conditioning systems that could leak water onto the airbag control module.
Faulty Airbags: Manufacturing Defect
The specific issue appears to be that a manufacturing error at a supplier could cause the drain tube within the air conditioning systems to become blocked. As a result, water that was supposed to drain out of the vehicle could spill on the airbag module instead causing a malfunction that could set the airbags off unexpectedly.
If the module gets wet, it could signal the airbags to deploy. In such a situation, the airbag warning light on the dashboard may also light up if the module is water damaged. If this happens, the automaker says that owners should contact a dealership immediately and make arrangements to have the vehicle inspected or repaired.
Documents provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that Volkswagen started investigating the issue in July after learning about a vehicle with faulty airbags that had deployed without a crash or impact. The automaker has also said they are not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue. Volkswagen will contact the owners of the affected vehicles via mail starting Jan. 14, 2022. VW dealerships will repair the drain tube and replace the airbag control module if necessary free of charge. According to Volkswagen, parts for the repair might not be available immediately.
Auto Product Liability Issues
While faulty airbags fail, it can result in major injuries or even fatalities, inadvertent airbag deployment can result in crashes and injuries as well. When an airbag deploys suddenly and with explosive force, it can cause serious injuries including broken ribs and facial injuries. Also, sudden airbag deployment can catch the driver by surprise and cause a car accident.
Anyone who has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective airbag or any other auto defect would be well advised to preserve the vehicle in its current condition unaltered so an expert can analyze it for defects, malfunctions, and other evidence. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and their families in such cases regarding their legal rights and options.