Toyota has announced another recall—this time for both defective air bags and leaky fuel tanks.
This recall affects about 3.4 million vehicles globally. Though the fuel tank problems affect about 2.87 million vehicles, another 1.43 million have potentially defective side Autoliv air bags that can partially inflate while the vehicles are parked. Another about 932,000 vehicles are affected by both recalls.
Though this particular action does not involve defective Takata air bags, Toyota is one of 17 automakers that was involved in the massive Takata recall, involving now over 60 million vehicles worldwide. The latest Toyota recall of Takata air bags was announced in May 2016, with Toyota adding 1.6 million vehicles to the list for Takata air bag replacements, including 2009–2011 Corolla and Matrix, 2006–2011 Yaris, 2010–2011 4Runner, 2011 Sienna, 2008–2011 Scion xB, 2007–2011 Lexus ES, 2010–2011 Lexus GX, and 2006–2011 Lexus IS.
Autoliv Air Bags May Deploy in Hot and Humid Conditions
So far, Toyota isn’t aware of any crashes or injuries related to the Autoliv air bag problems, or to the fuel-tank flaws. The Autoliv faulty deployments appear somewhat similar to the Takata air bag explosions, in that both are affected by temperature.
High humidities and high temperatures have been pinpointed as factors in causing unstable Takata air bags to explode, particularly in older model vehicles. Autoliv air bags, as well, have been found to partially inflate in parked cars exposed to temperature swings. The Swedish-based air bag company is aware of seven incidences so far in which the air bags partially inflated.
Unlike the Takata air bag issue, though, which seems to be related to the fuel used in the air bag inflator (ammonium nitrate), the Autoliv issue seems to be caused by a manufacturing error. The current theory is that heat and humidity may affect a particular bracket with a crack in the weld. That crack may weaken under these conditions with time, causing stored gas to leak and the air bag to deploy.
Like the faulty Takata air bag deployments, the Autoliv deployments can also result in small pieces of the inflator being spewed into the interior of the vehicle.
Toyota named the Prius hybrid and Lexus CT compact cars made between October 2008 and April 2012 as potentially having faulty Autoliv air bags. The automaker plans to add an additional retention bracket per side to address the issue, according to AutoNews.
The fuel tank issue affects Prius hybrids and Corolla compacts made between April 2006 and August 2015, among others. Toyota stated that fuel emissions control canisters could crack and leak when the vehicles have full tanks of gas.
Takata Air Bag Lawsuits Under Way
Currently, there are at least six class action lawsuits filed against Takata and related automakers, including Honda. A number of other individuals have filed Takata air bag lawsuits as well. All federally filed lawsuits were consolidated into the Southern District of Florida in February 2015.
Some plaintiffs seek economic damages because of the loss in value of their vehicles. Others seek damages to cover medical expenses after injuries and/or wrongful death.