Toyota Motor Corp. announced on Tuesday that it would recall 3.4 million vehicles worldwide due to an electronic defect that prevents the airbags from deploying in the event of a crash.
Airbag deployment and seatbelt tightening defect
According to Reuters, the Japanese automaker revealed that some Toyota models are equipped with an electronic control unit, which receives incoming signals from crash sensors and triggers the deployment of the airbags and tightening of the seatbelts, should the need arise.
However, the unit "may not have adequate protection against certain electrical noise that can occur in certain crashes, such as severe underride crashes," Toyota said in a statement. This poses as a major safety issue as the airbags in these models may not deploy properly or at all, which puts passengers at the highest risk of injury or even death.
The faulty units were made by "a specific supplier" that Toyota did not identify. In order to fix the units, Toyota will install a noise filter in the recalled units, if necessary, at no additional cost to vehicle owners.
Which models have been affected?
A total of 3.4 million vehicles have been affected by this defect, including 2.9 million U.S. vehicles. The affected Toyota models include the 2011 – 2019 Corolla, 2011 – 2013 Matrix, 2012-2018 Avalon and 2013-2018 Avalon Hybrid vehicles.
The airbag and seat defect has already been tied to a fatal car crash. In April, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a probe potentially defective airbags after identifying two frontal car crashes "involving Toyota products where (electrical overstress) is suspected as the likely cause" of airbags not deploying. Both crashes involved the new Toyota Corolla models.
How to check if your car has been affected?
In order to find out whether your Toyota is among the affected vehicles, you can head over to the recall information page on Toyota's official website or or on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website and enter either your license plate number or your 17-digit unique VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). If your vehicle is affected, you can contact your preferred authorised Toyota dealer to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.