Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. this week announced it is conducting a safety recall of approximately 482,000 model year 2010-‘12 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids and 2011-’12 Lexus CT 200h vehicles.
The involved vehicles are equipped with curtain shield air bags (CSA) in the driver and passenger side roof rails that have air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together. Some inflators could have a small crack in the weld area joining the chambers, which could grow over time, and lead to the separation of the inflator chambers. This has been observed when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time. If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle. If an occupant is present in the vehicle, there is an increased risk of injury.
All known owners of the involved vehicles will be notified by first-class mail. Toyota and Lexus dealers will install retention brackets on the curtain shield air bag inflators at no cost. These retention brackets are designed to prevent the inflator chambers from entering the vehicle interior if separation occurs.
Autoliv Inc., a supplier of CSAs to Toyota, said it is cooperating with Toyota in its voluntary recall.
According to Autoliv, seven incidents involving the Toyota Prius have been reported where a side curtain airbag has partially inflated without a deployment signal being given by the airbag controller. In each of those incidents, the vehicles were parked and unoccupied, and there have been no reported injuries.
The root cause analysis of this issue is continuing. No incidents have been reported in any vehicles produced by the four other OEMs who used the same inflator, pointing to vehicle-specific characteristics contributing to the issue in addition to a manufacturing issue. The inflator manufacturing process suspected of contributing to the issue was changed in January 2012 and the vehicles now recalled by Toyota represent approximately half of all such inflators manufactured until January 2012.
“For Autoliv, safety and quality are our priorities and we are fully committed to support Toyota’s action in resolving this issue, and will support Toyota in the implementation of solution to the issue,” said Jan Carlson, chairman, president and CEO, Autoliv.
Toyota, in conjunction with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan, have concluded that an additional retention bracket will address this issue.
It is too early to determine the final cost to Autoliv, but it is currently expected it to be in the range of $10 to $40 million USD, net of expected insurance recoveries.