NHTSA investigation: Inadvertent air bag deployment in 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty vehicles

Consumer Reports News: January 30, 2012 02:38 PM

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into incidents of inadvertent air bag deployment without a crash in 2002 and 2003 Jeep Liberty vehicles.

According to NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations, 87 reports of inadvertent air bag deployment resulted in 50 alleged injuries. The injuries included burns, cuts and bruises. Forty two of the 87 incidents involved the front driver air bag, and the other 45 involved both the driver and passenger front air bags inadvertently deploying.

The incidents occurred both at vehicle startup or while the vehicle was being operated on the road. Some owners noted that the air bag warning light had illuminated, or had intermittently illuminated, and occurred just prior to the air bag deployment, while others stated they did not observe any illumination of the air bag light.

Inspection of the occupant restraint control module by Chrysler indicates that an internal electronic circuit (an ASIC chip) that controls air bag deployment failed due to an electrical over stress condition, possibly caused by a transient voltage spike.

Chrysler is in the process of identifying potential root causes of the component failure and the source for electrical over stress. In addition, Chrysler noted that there have been no reports of inadvertent air bag deployment in vehicles manufactured after March 19, 2003. However, Chrysler has not identified a component or other change that would explain why the inadvertent deployments ceased. Accordingly, the engineering analysis is being opened in order to further study the alleged defect and its consequences.

The ODI reports can be reviewed at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints under the following identification numbers:

  • 10435710
  • 10429579
  • 10429306
  • 10428411
  • 10407276
  • 10399551
  • 10335637
  • 10283484
  • 10249231
  • 10166706
  • 10055405

Maggie Shader


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