Mercedes-Benz will ask the owners of almost 22,000 passenger cars and SUVs to visit its workshops to fix airbags that may explode in the driver’s face if they ignore a warning.
The recall relates to 21,985 versions of the A-, B-, C-, and E-Class passenger cars, and the GLA-, CLA- and GLC-Class SUVs sold between 2012 and 2013. According to the German luxury car maker, a random electrostatic discharge – what we’d more commonly call static electricity – could trigger the airbag to fire if the steering wheel is not properly grounded, and the steering column switch module is “damaged or faulty”.
The number of cars recalled accounts for almost one in every two Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles sold in the two-year period.
“An airbag warning message will alert the driver via the instrument cluster display as well as a red airbag indicator lamp that the steering column module is damaged or faulty,” the car maker said on the Australian government’s recall tracking website.
“Triggering of the driver airbag without obvious cause could both increase the risk of injury to the driver as well as the risk of a possible accident.”
The recall is similar to another recall issued last month for around 380 V-Class and Vito vans also at risk of a randomly firing steering wheel-mounted airbag.
And earlier this month, Toyota and Lexus announced it was recalling 27,000 vehicles, because of sensor fault that could prevent airbags going of in an accident.
The Mercedes-Benz and Toyota/Lexus recalls are not related to the global Takata airbag scandal that has potentially resulted in the death of at least two Australian drivers.
In Takata’s case, the airbags fire in a crash as expected, but could either fire dangerous shrapnel from the airbag’s housing into the faces of the people they are supposed to protect, or split when they inflate.
More than 2.3 million vehicles have been recalled in Australia to fix the faulty airbags. The Takata saga has become the world’s largest automotive recall, affecting more than 50 million vehicles globally.
The recalls.gov.au website has updated its list of models affected by the Takata airbag recall to include whether the airbag fitted to a vehicle is the more dangerous Alpha inflator linked to most of the deaths globally.
Cars fitted with the Takata alpha airbags include:
MODEL YEAR RANGE
Honda Accord, CR-V 2001-02
Honda Civic 2001
Honda Accord 2001-02
Honda Civic, Accord, Accord Euro, CR-V, Jazz, MDX 2001-2003
Honda Jazz 2004
Mazda6, RX-8 2002-07
Nissan N16 Pulsar, Y61 Patrol, D22 Navara, T30 X-Trail 2000-04
Nissan N16 Pulsar, D22 Navara, Y61 Patrol, T30 X-Trail, A33 Maxima 2001-03
Toyota Corolla, Avensis Verso 2000-04
Lexus SC430 2000-04
Toyota Echo, RAV4 2002-03