27 Investigates: Airbag recall affects safety

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A stop-sale order on the Chevrolet Cruze lasted less than 12 hours, but the automaker is still closely examining the safety issue.

When an airbag deploys, it goes off at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Cleveland Auto Wrecking in Youngstown allowed WKBN First News to show the force behind airbags as they deploy.

“It is probably like hitting a concrete wall on roller skates,” said Cleveland Auto Wrecking Facilities Manager Ed Kunzer. “The impact of the bag, you seen it go off, is very powerful.”

Hondas, Mazdas, Nissans and now Chevrolets all use airbags and airbag systems from Takata. Millions of cars are now under recall for defective parts from the company.

“If it didn’t function, it would be like the old days. You would be bounced around through the window possibly or through the dashboard,” said Kunzer. “If there was foreign matter in there, it would be like getting hit with a shotgun.”

The airbag mechanism includes a clockspring along with control modules and sensors. They are just part of a complex system that needs to function perfectly for an airbag to go off when you need it most.

It was another part of the system – the inflator module – that led to the GM stop sale. In the earlier recall, the parts didn’t function properly in areas of high humidity.

Malfunctioning airbags aren’t a new problem. Kunzer said he has heard stories of other airbag malfunctions that typically ended an accident.

Takata supplies airbags and seatbelts to several manufacturers throughout the automotive industry.

Toyota’s affected models include the Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Yaris and Camry. The models recalled at Honda include the Fit, Element and CR-V, while those at Nissan are the Cube, X-Trail and some Infiniti models. Recalled at Mazda were the Atenza and RX-8, according to the Associated Press.


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