Driving can sometimes be dangerous due to driver and road mishaps that cause accidents; however, most drivers don't expect a safety device installed inside their vehicle, which is designed to protect them, to be the source of catastrophic injury. Yet, that's exactly what happened recently, as Fiat Chrysler revealed in a recent statement. According to FOX News, three people have died, and several people have been injured, because of defects linked to airbags and automatic seatbelt tighteners. In response, Chrysler issued a wide-ranging recall of approximately 1.9 million cars and SUVs, and anyone driving models with defective airbags is at risk of serious injury.
Chrysler vehicle makes and models currently under this 2016 recall are:
2010 Chrysler Cirrus 2010 Chrysler Sebring 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber 2010-2014 Dodge Avenger 2010-2014 Jeep Compass 2010-2014 Jeep Patriot 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 2012-2013 Lancia Flavia
Large recalls such as this one are public nightmares for major car companies, and this recall is no exception. As is often the case, companies tend to be pretty tight-lipped during the recall process. However, Chrysler did issue a brief public statement on the matter.
"The company is aware of three fatalities and five injuries that may potentially be related to this condition."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is contacting individual owners of all affected car models to get the word out about the airbag problem. FCA is replacing defective parts in these vehicles free of charge. It should be noted that the Chrysler recall is completely unrelated to a recent 2016 recall by General Motors. That recall involves a similar airbag issue.
Drivers of popular car models across the board have reason to be concerned about the recent spate of car industry recalls. The root of the defective airbag problem has a lot to do with certain parts manufacturers. Major car companies such as FCA, GM and Toyota heavily rely on parts sent to them for installation. Parts manufacturers are responsible for producing millions of airbags, and when a major flaw goes unnoticed, those parts can end up in millions of cars on the road.
CNBC reports that Continental Automotive Systems, a supplier of airbag parts, admitted to supplying major automotive companies with defective airbag control units. Over a period of five years it shipped airbags that may not deploy during an automobile accident. Some of the supplier's defective airbags may suddenly deploy for no reason, surprising drivers and causing road accidents. It boggles the mind that this many bad airbags are allowed to pass inspection without some type of warning system raising a big red flag. Auto part manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the products they make are as safe as possible, and anything less is shameful. Perhaps additional regulation is needed to protect car owners.
Action on the faulty airbag issue may be imminent. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration is looking into this recent rash of malfunctioning car parts. The agency has already issued fines totaling millions of dollars to Fiat Chrysler over its mishandling of recalls in 2003 and 2015. Perhaps another fine is on the way, but the agency should take steps to help automakers establish stricter quality standards for auto part makers, especially when lives are on the line.