Volvo recalls older S80, S60 sedans for airbag issue

Volvo will be recalling 259,383 older sedans for an exploding airbag risk, the NHTSA disclosed on Monday. The issue is similar to the Takata airbag recall that has roiled the automotive industry and affected more than 67 million vehicles as the largest automotive recall in history. The Volvo airbags in question, however, came from a different supplier than Takata.

The affected cars are the 2001-2009 Volvo S60 and 2001-2006 Volvo S80. The airbag inflator propellant tablets can dry out and decay if subjected to high moisture levels and high temperatures, similar to the airbag desiccant problem with the faulty Takata airbags. Volvo found that if the tablets dry out and turn to dust, the dust increases the burn surface area, which can lead to higher combustion chamber pressure that causes the driver airbag inflator housed in the steering wheel to rupture. If ruptured, it can shoot metal shrapnel toward the driver. 

The affected Volvo airbags, FG2 Twin inflators, were supplied by AutoLiv, based in Michigan. Volvo reported there is one lawsuit stemming from the issue, and the vehicles are no longer in production and the airbags no longer used.

The Takata airbag recall originally was limited to inflators that erupted from breaking down over time to high temperature fluctuations in high humidity regions. In some lethal instances, the erupting inflators spewed metal fragments into the heads and chests of drivers and front passengers. In the U.S., there were 19 reported deaths and more than 400 injuries. Over time, and since the first recall occurred in 2014, the NHTSA broadened the recall not just to regions with high humidity but to any Takata airbag inflator without the drying agent.

Last month, the NHTSA announced it was investigating the safety of an estimated 30 million more vehicles from the 2001 to 2019 model years for vehicles equipped with Takata airbags that may have already been recalled and repaired, with and without the drying agent. Of the 28 brands affected by the Takata recall, ranging from Tesla to Saab, Volvo was not one of them. 

Volvo will replace the driver airbag for free, and owners can expect notification of the recall as early as November 29, 2021. Owners can contact Volvo Car customer service at 1-800-458-1552 or visit Volvo’s recall website. 

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