There's growing concern that some sort of electrical overstress is messing with airbag control units (ACU) in the Fiat 500.
ACUs are designed to sense a vehicle crash. An application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) within the ACU pulls in electrical signals from crash sensors located throughout the vehicle. When a crash is detected, the ACU determines which airbags need to be deployed and when to activate the seat belt pretensioners.
ZF-TRW control units were manufactured without circuit-protecting diodes. When the ASIC is supplied with too much current or voltage, it’ll shut down the ACU and, in turn, disable the airbags and pretensioners.
At this time the problem is believed to be responsible for as many as eight deaths.
One Step Away from a Recall
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating these ACUs since March of 2018. The original investigation opened following claims that airbags hadn’t deployed during frontal crashes with some Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
Hyundai told the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) that their research revealed the airbags were failing.
”…post-collision inspections of the air bag control units (ACUs) showing that an electrical overstress condition (EOS) of an ACU electronic component occurred in three of the crashes, and that the fourth ACU is under evaluation for the same concern.”
The investigation has been upgraded
In April 2019, NHTSA upgraded their investigation to an engineering analysis. This came after two major crashes involving Toyota Corollas where the airbags didn’t deploy. There was one fatality.
An “engineering analysis” is the final step before a recall, but does not always mean that will be ordered.
Honda and Acura Vehicles Under Investigation
Attorneys with Gibbs Law Group LLP are investigating a TRW airbag module class action lawsuit after federal investigators expanded their investigation of a potential defect in airbag control units (ACUs) manufactured by TRW.
If you own one of these vehicles, the class action attorneys at Gibbs Law Group would like to speak with you.