Deadly Airbags Force Volvo to Recall Older S60 and S80, One Fatality Confirmed
9 November 2020 - autoevolution
Remember the Takata airbag recall, namely the reason those inflators had to be replaced by the millions?
As it happens, safety systems supplier ZF-TRW has a similar problem with a batch of airbags that equip 54,000 older Volvo sedans.
The Part 573 Safety Recall Report published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the affected population at precisely 54,124 vehicles built between the 2001 and 2003 model years. The S60 and S80 sold "in hot and humid areas" are being called back, namely those cars that found their way to places like Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico.
In the event of a crash that activates the driver's airbag, a rupture may occur, translating to shrapnel flying straight into the driver's face. Volvo says this scenario could potentially result "in serious injury or death" for the driver. As the headline implies, Volvo Cars "is aware of one fatality report related to this condition."
The reason these airbags morphed from life-saving features to grim reapers is moisture. If the propellant tablets are subjected to high levels of moisture combined with high temperatures, the tablets will decay and form dust particles. Dust increases the burn rate by increasing the burn surface area, resulting in higher-than-normal pressure.
As for the component in question, the culprit is the FG2 airbag inflator containing 5 AT 148 N propellant. Volvo has already notified U.S. dealerships of this issue, and all of the known owners should be informed from January 4th, 2021. The remedy, as expected, is downright simple. Authorized dealerships will replace the airbags at no cost to the customers, an operation that shouldn't take more than an hour or two.
In the meantime, you can ring your dealer for more info or run the VIN on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website to confirm if your car is affected. Stateside owners can also contact Volvo at 1-866-870-2046.