Motor vehicle accidents often occur very quickly, literally in the blink of an eye. Sometimes a collision occurs before the driver or any their passengers even have a chance to brace themselves or prepare for impact. These instances highlight the importance of a vehicle’s safety features, since effective airbags and seat belts can mean the difference between life and death for all those involved in the accident.
Therefore, when a car manufacturer discovers a problem with their safety features they need to act quickly to address the issue before it leads to serious consumer safety risks. This month, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled a number of its RAV4 models and Highlander SUVs after reports indicating that both vehicles were experiencing problems with their airbag systems.
Toyota researchers have found that owners of 2007 and 2008 RAV4s and 2008 Highlanders face a risk that their airbags will release unexpectedly at inappropriate times. Along with the recall, Toyota representatives explained that the malfunction is caused by a glitch in the roll-sensing airbag system originally created to offer passengers an extra layer of protection in the case of a rollover accident.
The models have sensors which allow the vehicle’s operating system to know when the car is in danger of rolling over. However, these sensors have been known to fail, thereby deactivating the entire roll-detection program. Toyota claims that if both sensors were to malfunction at the same time, the system could trigger random airbag deployments.
Owners of the recalled Toyota models may take their vehicle into a dealership for a free repair which the company claims will fix the sensor system. Currently, the recall is set to begin sometime in May.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Toyota Recalls 308,000 Vehicles to Fix Airbags.” Jonathan Welsh, 21 April 2011