Toyota recall: 3.4 million cars may have defective airbags

Most of the vehicles are in the US, where regulators are investigating millions of cars with potentially faulty airbags.

Toyota airbag
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in April that it had identified two frontal crash events, including one fatal crash 'involving Toyota products' [File: Pierre Albouy/Reuters]

Toyota Motor Corp said on Tuesday that it will recall 3.4 million vehicles worldwide because of an electronic defect that can result in airbags not deploying in crashes.

The recall, which includes 2.9 million vehicles in the United States, covers 2011-19 Corolla, 2011-13 Matrix, 2012-18 Avalon and 2013-18 Avalon Hybrid vehicles and is tied to a report of one fatal crash.

The vehicles may have an electronic control unit that does not have adequate protection against electrical noise that can occur in crashes, which could lead to incomplete or non-deployment of the airbags, Toyota said. It could also impede the operation of seat belt pretensioners.

In April, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded an investigation into 12.3 million potentially defective airbags covering a number of carmakers, including the vehicles Toyota is recalling.

The NHTSA said in April it had identified two frontal crash events, including one fatal crash “involving Toyota products where [electrical overstress] is suspected as the likely cause” of airbags not deploying. Both involved newer Corolla cars.

The NHTSA said the airbags under investigation were installed in more than 12 million vehicles from 2010 through 2019 sold by Toyota, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co, Kia Motors Corp and Mitsubishi.

They were equipped with an airbag control unit initially produced by TRW Automotive Holdings Corp, which is now owned by ZF Friedrichshafen.

In total, NHTSA said as many as eight deaths could be tied to the issue.

Earlier on Tuesday, Honda said it would recall 2.7 million North American vehicles due to the potentially defective airbag inflators. The recall would affect Honda and Acura models from 1996 through 2003.

Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler previously issued recalls for more than 2.5 million vehicles with the TRW airbag control units in question that might not deploy in crashes.

When it recalled nearly 2 million vehicles for airbag non-deployments in 2016, Fiat Chrysler said it had reports of three deaths and five injuries that might be related to the defect.

Hyundai and Kia ultimately recalled more than 1 million vehicles for airbag non-deployment concerns in 2018. Hyundai and Kia in 2018 said they had reports of four deaths and six injuries in North America tied to the issue.

Toyota dealers will install a noise filter between the airbag control module and its wire harness if needed.

Toyota declined to say how many deaths or injuries have been tied to the defect. Toyota will notify vehicle owners of the recall by mid-March. 

Source: Reuters