Volvo recalls 17,000 cars for airbags

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2012 Volvo S60

The 2012 Volvo S60 is one of the models subject to the recall. Image: qJake/Flickr/CC BY-SA

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Sweden-based automaker Volvo will be recalling several thousand of its vehicles due to front and side airbag issues. The announcement was posted on the NHTSA website Friday. But Volvo may not have been timely in reporting the issue.

Front and side airbags may not deploy

The company will be calling back 17,000 of its 2012 S60, XC60, S80 and XC70 models. The models in question were assembled between May 16 and Oct. 6, 2011. The report indicates that front and side airbags may not deploy properly in the event of an accident, if at all.

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Could tear free

Volvo says the problem stems from a wiring harness located under the front seats. The harness may not have been securely anchored in the assembly process. If a seat is readjusted by a driver or passenger, the wire harness could snag and tear loose. If the harness were to be ripped free, according to Volvo, a warning light would come on saying “SRS service required urgent.” However, if a collision or accident occurs before the system is serviced, the airbags would likely not deploy. Also the seat belt pretensioner may fail as a result of the issue.

SRS — or Supplemental Restraint System — is automotive industry jargon for the airbag system.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the issue.

First noticed in June

The Swedish automaker received its first complaint over the issue in June, 2011. The decision was made in October to stop all the possibly affected vehicles from leaving factories and ports of entry until the wiring harnesses had been inspected. Those inspections led to a technical bulletin about the problem being sent to dealerships on Feb. 6.

May not have been reported in timely manner

The problem was reported to the NHTSA last week. The New York Times “Wheels” blog questioned the timing, coming from a company that prides itself of its safety:

“Not until Feb. 22 … did Volvo, a manufacturer that regularly emphasizes its reputation for safety, decide that the condition constituted a safety issue and that it would report the defect to the agency.”

When a safety issue is discovered, an automaker is expected to report the issue to the NHTSA within five days. Volvo could be subject to a fine or other penalty for the delay in reporting the issue. However, the company has not as yet commented on its timing.


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