Volvo has issued a new recall notice for thousands of cars in the US. The cars in question have faulty airbags, according to the notice, though all of the affected vehicles are older. Those who are familiar with automotive recall history will not be surprised to hear that the airbags in question use a similar inflator to those manufactured by the now-defunct Japanese company Takata.
Takata’s airbags were linked to driver injuries and fatalities on numerous occasions. The company’s faulty airbag assemblies have resulted in dozens of automotive recalls, and the ensuing lawsuits eventually resulted in the company going out of business. The airbags in the Volvo vehicles were made by ZF/TRW, and they can cause similar injury if they deteriorate under conditions of intense heat or humidity.
While the ZF/TRW airbags don’t use the same ammonium nitrate propellant that Takata used, the assemblies are similar enough that Volvo is now expanding their recall out of an abundance of caution.
The Volvo recall affects 2001 through 2006 S80 sedans, as well as 2001 through 2009 S60 vehicles. All said, almost 260,000 vehicles are included in the sweeping recall notice. Owners of the recalled vehicles are urged to drive cautiously until they can have the airbag issue fixed.
The hardware failure in question involves the propellant used in the ZF/TRW airbag assembly. The propellant can break down and become faulty if exposed to environments of high temperature or humidity. In November of 2020, a faulty ZF/TRW airbag exploded, sending shrapnel into the cab and killing the driver of the vehicle.
Drivers will be notified of the recall via mail starting on November 29. At that point, owners of the affected vehicles will be able to bring their Volvo to a dealership for a replacement airbag. Volvo has stated that the replacements will be modern, “state of the art” assemblies.
It might seem strange that this recall notice is being sent almost a year after the fatality that made the issue known. However, this is an expansion of an existing recall notice that Volvo issued in response to that incident. The original recall only covered vehicles from 2001 through 2003 and was specifically focused on states in the Southern US.
The recall has expanded to cover even more vehicles and is now nationwide. The reasoning behind this, according to Volvo, is simply “an abundance of caution”. In the meantime, drivers of the recalled Volvos are urged to store their vehicles in a cool, dry place and should take pains to drive other vehicles if possible.