Volvo issues recall for 195,000 more vehicles in the US to replace driver airbag inflator

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Volvo is recalling another 195,000 vehicles in the US because the front driver’s airbags could explode and send shrapnel into the cabin. It’s the company’s third US recall for the issue with airbag inflators made by supplier ZF/TRW. It stems from the death of an unidentified US driver. In all, the recalls cover nearly 768,000 older vehicles worldwide, according to Volvo.

The latest recall posted Thursday by US safety regulators covers XC70 and V70 wagons from the 2001 through 2007 model years that were built from 22 February, 2000, through 4 May, 2007.

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The problem is similar to widespread trouble with airbag inflators made by bankrupt Japanese airbag maker Takata. The company used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the airbags. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister.

The Volvo inflators, made by ZF/TRW, do not use ammonium nitrate, but the propellant can still deteriorate when exposed to high heat and humidity. Image: Volvo Cars

The Volvo inflators, made by ZF/TRW, do not use ammonium nitrate, but the propellant can still deteriorate when exposed to high heat and humidity. Image: Volvo Cars

At least 19 people in the US and 28 worldwide have been killed by exploding Takata inflators. More than 400 have been injured in the US.

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The Volvo inflators do not use ammonium nitrate, but the propellant can still deteriorate when exposed to high heat and humidity, according to documents posted Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Volvo said in the documents that the fatality is the only inflator rupture case that it knows of.
ZF/TRW said the inflators were not sold to any other automakers in the US. The company’s US headquarters is in Livonia, Michigan, near Detroit.

Earlier this month, Volvo recalled nearly 260,000 older cars in the US for the same problem. That was in addition to a recall from November of 2020.

Volvo said Thursday that it will contact owners of all the recalled cars and tell them how to get the vehicles repaired.

Dealers will replace the driver’s airbag “with a modern state-of-the-art propellant/inflator,” the Volvo documents say. Owners in the latest US recall will be notified by letter starting 14 December.

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