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Volvo to Recall 460,769 Cars Worldwide Over Air Bag Rupture Fatality

Mikael Sjoberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Volvo is recalling 460,769 older model cars worldwide due to faulty air bags that could be deadly in the event of a crash.
  • Fragments of the inflator inside the air bag may, in certain cases, project out and in a worst case strike you, potentially resulting in serious injury or death, the company told U.S. safety regulators.
  • Volvo is aware of one rupture incident that resulted in a fatality due to the problem, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Volvo Cars is recalling 460,769 older model cars worldwide due to faulty air bags that could be deadly in the event of a crash.

The problem occurs when the air bag is activated because of a crash. Fragments of the inflator inside the air bag may, in certain cases, project out and in a worst case strike you, potentially resulting in serious injury or death, the company told U.S. safety regulators.

Geely-owned Volvo, which recently confirmed plans to go public, is aware of one rupture incident that resulted in a fatality due to the problem, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The vehicles impacted are older-model Volvos. They include the 2001-2006 S80 and 2001-2009 S60. The vehicles were produced between May 2000 and March 2009.

More than half of the vehicles – 259,383 – were sold in the U.S.

Volvo said the problem occurs over time if the air bag inflator propellant tablets are subjected to elevated moisture levels and frequent high inflator temperatures. The tablets can start to decay and form dust particles, which increase the pressure and "burn rate" of the devices. Those factors could cause the inflator to rupture and spray metal fragments at occupants.

"In the event of a crash where the driver airbag is activated, fragments of the inflator inside the air bag may, in certain cases, project out and in worst case strike you, potentially resulting in serious injury or death," according to Volvo.

To fix the problem, the company will replace the driver air bag at no charge to the customer. It plans to notify impacted owners as soon as next month to fix the vehicles.

Volvo did not disclose an expected cost to replace the air bags, which can be expensive. A massive recall of 67 million air bags from Japanese auto supplier Takata cost the auto industry billions of dollars and caused the company to file for bankruptcy.

The air bag components in the Volvo vehicles were supplied by Sweden-based AutoLiv and German auto supplier ZF, according to documents filed with the NHTSA.

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