Auburn Hills, Michigan – Dec. 14, 2017 – Fiat Chrysler USA recently announced the recall of 26,971 Jeep Compasses from the 2018 model year, over concerns that there may be loose inflator mounting nuts in the passenger airbag module assembly.
Specifically, it is believed that a small number of the 2018 Compasses were manufactured outside of specification, with some vehicles having a box of inflator mounting nuts kept above the module assembly area before the airbag inflator was installed. In those instances, nuts could be resting within the airbag assembly and, in case of a crash and airbag deployment, those nuts could become projectiles and significantly increasing the potential for injury.
It’s expected that this defect impacts only about 1 percent of the vehicles in the recall, and all of them were produced between Sept. 4 and Nov. 19, 2017.
The issue was first noticed when Chrysler’s Supplier Quality Engineering organization noted a rattle inside the instrument panel of one of the vehicles that would later be recalled. That prompted an investigation, which determined that with the box resting above the assembly area, it was possible for loose nuts to fall into module assembly due to its having multiple openings.
In the event of a crash in which the airbags deploy, it’s possible that these nuts would be launched at high velocity toward an occupant, even through the cushion of the airbag itself.
Timeline of Events
Chrysler’s SQE reported the initial concern about the rattling in the instrument panel on in early November, prompting an investigation from the company’s Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance organization. Once the cause of the potential issue was determined within the manufacturing process, it was discovered that five airbag module assemblies – all produced between Oct. 20 and Nov. 2, 2017 – were found to have loose mounting nuts inside. Of those five, two of the assemblies had the nuts outside the fabric of the airbag itself.
Then, on Nov. 17, the company determined it would conduct a recall of the affected vehicles.
Chrysler is conducting a voluntary recall to replace all the airbag module assemblies for the vehicles in the recall, and will reimburse drivers for any repair costs they incur getting the airbag problem remedied. It asks that any proof of payment, such as the receipt for the transaction, be forwarded to the company.
The automaker announced in late November that it would notify both dealers and vehicle owners of the recall on Jan. 10, 2018.