Air bag defect probe expands to include 12.3 million more vehicles

The federal government has expanded its probe into faulty air bags in cars to include an additional 12.3 million vehicles that could potentially fail to inflate during a crash.

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Certain car models by Honda, Kia, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler from 2010 through 2019 have been named in the probe, according to documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

All models in the probe have air bag control units made by ZF-TRW, which according to NHTSA, could fail upon a collision due to unwanted electrical signals caused by the crash that could disable the air bag’s control circuit.

The Associated Press reported that the defect could be responsible for as many as eight deaths.

ZF, a German-based auto parts maker, did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment but it did tell AP that it’s committed to safety and is cooperating with NHTSA and the automakers named in the investigation.

Last week, NHTSA upgraded its ZF probe from a “preliminary evaluation” to an “engineering analysis,” which is one step closer toward becoming a recall.  The upgrade was prompted by two recent crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas in which the airbags did not inflate, causing one person’s death.

NHTSA began its probe into ZF air bag last year after some air bags in Hyundai and Kia vehicles did not deploy in frontal collisions. The initial probe included 425,000 vehicles.

Air bags are a common issue in safety investigations and recalls. Last month, Honda announced it was voluntarily recalling more than one million cars after an air bag inflator supplied by Takata exploded and injured a driver.

Takata was part of the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, after several of the auto maker’s air bags exploded, killing 15 people in the U.S. and injuring hundreds worldwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report