Airbag woes have forced Honda and Toyota to recall 6 million vehicles this past week. Toyota announced it would recall 3.4 million cars, 2.9 million of which are in the United States, over concerns of defective equipment that may malfunction in the event of a collision. In a separate announcement on the same day, Honda announced that the car manufacturer would recall 2.7 million vehicles; 2.4 million of which are in the United States, with another 300,000 in Canada.
For Toyota, the affected models in North America include some of the Avalon, Avalon HV, Corolla, and the Corolla Matrix lines produced between 2010 and 2019. Toyota said the recall is over safety concerns that the vehicles’ electronic control units (ECU’s) may be defective.
The ECU’s function is to communicate with a car’s sensors and facilitate the deployment of the vehicles’ airbags and seat belt pretensioners, which is the part of the seat belt designed to tighten and hold drivers and passengers during a collision to lower the chance of injury.
Toyota said the company learned that certain noises may interfere with the devices connectivity, including certain noises that may occur during a crash, which can “lead to incomplete or non-deployment of the airbags and/or seat belt pretensioners. “
Toyota said the company plans to notify affected drivers by mid-March, where they may be offered new noise filters at Toyota dealerships to help mitigate the sensor communication problems if necessary. Meanwhile, millions of drivers could be vulnerable to serious physical injury due to defective equipment that could prevent the proper deployment of their airbags and seat belt pretensioners during a collision.
Honda’s recall is unrelated to Toyotas’ and yet another issue involving the Japanese airbag maker Takata. Honda said this most recent issue is unrelated to the massive safety scandal that has recently led Takata to file bankruptcy and issue the largest auto recall in history over defects such as exploding airbag inflators, under-inflation, and spewing shrapnel. Instead, the carmaker said the current issue involves Acuras produced between 1996 and 2003, some of which might have dysfunctional Takata airbag inflators due to being produced without the “appropriate seals” needed to deploy properly.
Honda said car owners should sign up for inspections, but that the carmaker may not be able to help anytime soon due to a shortage of “alternative replacement parts,” and that free inspections and repairs may be about a year off.