Government Has Questions About Takata Airbags in VW Vehicles

Volkswagen Tiguan experiences exploding Takata airbag, first in a VW vehicle.

Posted in Investigations

— It's possible another automaker will have to cope with the disastrous consequences of exploding Takata airbags as Volkswagen is now answering questions about a 2015 VW Tiguan.

Volkswagen hasn't been part of the Takata airbag mess as 11 automakers recalled millions of cars to replace dangerous metal airbag inflators. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now investigating a potential problem in a 2015 VW Tiguan in Missouri.

NHTSA documents say investigators want to know if an exploding side airbag in the Tiguan is related to previous Takata recalls.

The vehicle in question experienced a ruptured side airbag in a June crash when the driver struck a deer. Unlike Takata airbags that have killed and injured vehicle occupants, the Missouri driver wasn't injured and it's possible this airbag explosion is different than previous Takata airbag ruptures.

Safety regulators will determine if the explosive chemical used in the VW airbag might have been affected by heat or moisture in the hot Missouri weather.

The chemical, ammonium nitrate, can be affected by heat and humidity which causes moisture to alter the explosive chemical and lead the airbag to explode with too much force. The explosion arises from the metal inflator used to inflate the airbag, metal that can shred human tissue.

Although Volkswagen says no other Takata airbags have ruptured in any other models, NHTSA will get a list of all Volkswagen vehicles that contain airbags with ammonium nitrate. This will apply to models with ammonium nitrate used in airbags from suppliers other than Takata.

CarComplaints.com will provide additional details after NHTSA completes its investigation.

Just a few days ago Volkswagen recalled 420,000 vehicles with driver-side airbags that can fail because of long hair invading the parts, a problem VW is still trying to figure out how to fix.