WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is telling owners of the 2.1 million vehicles that were recalled on Saturday to fix faulty airbags, and that dealership visits have the potential to avert "a family tragedy."
The vehicles are being recalled a second time for an electronic defect that may cause airbags to deploy inadvertently.
Affected vehicles are:
- 2002-'04 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, 2002-'03 Jeep Liberty and 2003-'04 Dodge Viper
- 2003-'04 Honda Odyssey and 2003 Acura MDX
- 2003-'04 Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix and Toyota Avalon
- 2003-'04 Pontiac Vibe
The new recall will provide owners with a new remedy after manufacturers' original attempts to fix the electronic defect in a series of recalls in 2012, 2013 and 2014 "proved ineffective in some vehicles," according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"This is unfortunately a complicated issue for consumers, who may have to return to their dealer more than once," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a statement. "But this is an urgent safety issue, and all consumers with vehicles covered by the previous recalls should have that remedy installed.
"Even though it's a temporary solution until the new remedy is available, they and their families will be safer if they take the time to learn if their vehicle is covered and follow their manufacturers' instructions. A hassle is much better than a family tragedy."
No deaths have been linked to this new airbag recall. NHTSA said it has received reports of about 40 vehicles in which airbags deployed unexpectedly after getting the original repair.
Fiat Chrysler U.S. said a small number of vehicles affected by the initial campaign were subject to "post-repair inadvertent airbag deployments."
"Some of the vehicle occupants suffered minor injuries from contact with the airbags," the company said in a statement. "FCA U.S. is aware of a single related accident."
Honda said it had received a "small number of complaints of inadvertent airbag deployment in these vehicles after the original recall repair was completed," but noted "no crashes have been reported to Honda related to this issue."
The temporary repair is designed to cut the chances of an inadvertent airbag deployment.
The permanent remedy involves replacing the entire electronic control module, which is supplied by TRW. The upgraded repair may not be ready for several months, according to NHTSA.
To further complicate matters, some of the aforementioned vehicles may also have defective Takata airbags. NHTSA said about 1.2 million vehicles made by Toyota and Honda that are the subject of the new recalls have also been recalled because of a defect in their airbags that may cause them to deploy with too much force, shooting shrapnel at vehicle occupants.
None of Chrysler's recalled vehicles are equipped with Takata airbags, according to the automaker.
Federal safety regulators took the unusual step of issuing a consumer safety advisory on Saturday, warning them to still get the initial recall repaired.
As a first step, consumers should get their vehicle's Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. It's a 17-digit string of numbers and letters printed on a small plate inside of the front left windshield. Then, they should go online to safercar.gov/vin and enter the VIN to see if it is under any current recall.
If it is, the next step is to bring the car into the dealership for the temporary repair.
Later, once a formal notice comes in the mail saying that the permanent remedy is available, another service appointment should be scheduled with the dealer for the permanent repair.
NHTSA said it will monitor TRW and the automakers to ensure that "they are moving as quickly as possible to make their customers safe."
More information is available by calling NHTSA's Safety Hotline at 1-800-424-9153.
Edmunds says: If you own one of these vehicles, it's urgent that you contact your local dealer to make arrangements for the temporary remedy.