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Latest Chrysler air bag lesson: Employ anger management tactics

Vehicle air bags are the hot item in the news lately. Everyone in Connecticut, we expect, is aware of the recalls related to the tens of millions of vehicles equipped with air bags made by Japan's Takata Corp.

As we noted in last week's post, experts aren't sure yet why the air bags have a seemingly growing propensity to deploy with so much force that they may actually be more of a hazard than a help in a motor vehicle crash. Aging is considered to be one likely reason. The suspicion is that chemicals in older air bag inflators have decayed to the point of instability.

But aging is clearly not the issue behind one of the most recent air bag-related recalls announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It involves some 322,000 Dodge Chargers built from 2011 to 2014. The problem is that the side air bags on the cars can be tripped and inflate unexpectedly.

All it might take is slamming or kicking the door shut with more force than the sensors for the bags can handle. That would suggest the importance of curbing angry tendencies. NHTSA says the bags can also be triggered by "heavy road inputs." We are guessing that means going over a bump too hard.

Charger-maker Fiat Chrysler says it's received only a couple of dozen complaints about the problem. It says it's aware of only three minor injuries attributable to the issue. But one has to wonder if more instances have occurred and just haven't been reported.

NHTSA says the sensors in the Occupant Restraint Control system need to be recalibrated to withstand stronger forces. Fiat Chrysler says it will do it for free through its dealerships. The schedule of the process isn't clear, however.

Anytime you get behind the wheel of a car there is an understandable expectation that the parts that have been used are in proper working order, especially those having to do with safety. If an accident resulting from a product malfunction occurs, the manufacturer stands to be liable for the pain, suffering and financial cost incurred by victims. An attorney should be consulted to determine if a case exists.

Source: Tech Times, "Fiat Chrysler Recalls 322,000 Dodge Chargers For Faulty Side Air Bags," Quinten Plummer, Aug. 5, 2015

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