Luxury Automaker Issues Limited Recall Due to Air Bag Snag

Laguna Hills, CA – July 17, 2019 – Maserati North America is recalling a limited number of Granturismo vehicles due to the potential for the onboard air bag systems to malfunction and/or deactivate should motorists experience a traffic accident. It’s also possible the air bag may deploy when it’s not intended to, thus increasing the risk of a crash and potential for injury. Pursuant to federal law, operators and dealers affected by this safety recall will be informed by first-class mail so they can make the appropriate arrangements to have this issue examined and repaired if necessary. This fix will come at no charge to the owners.

The Defect

According to paperwork filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Maserati is recalling an estimated 739 Granturismo and Granturismo convertibles – whose model years range between 2015 and 2018 – because the electrical control units that power the air bags may be defective. Typically, these units have built in sensors that automatically trigger when placed under stress, causing the air bag to deploy when the vehicle is struck. However, the silver adhesive cathode involved in this process may have been corrupted at some point during manufacturing. This defect may also cause the air bag to uncoil without warning.

The production dates for the models in question were between Sept. 2015 and June 2018 among Granturismo convertibles and Oct 2014 to February 2018 for hard-top Granturismo vehicles. The lion’s share of the recalled models – 545 of the 739 – are the former.

Timeline of Events

In May 2019, Maserati’s air bag component manufacturer, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, informed the luxury automaker that some of the Granturismo ECUs may have been installed with a faulty capacitor. Less than 24 hours later, Maserati launched an investigation to determine if this issue was isolated or systemic.

The company ultimately determined that the problem was likely an aberration, as field analysis failed to specify a common link. Furthermore, no warranties, injuries or crashes were reported that traced back to the issue ZF Group made Maserati aware of in May. No customer complaints or satisfaction problems were filed either. Nevertheless, to err on the side of caution, the luxury automaker determined that a small-scale recall was warranted and informed NHTSA of its intentions June 14.

Even though passenger air bags are increasingly sophisticated, there are a variety of reasons in which these systems may fail to deploy or trigger improperly, according to NHTSA. For example, using sensory technology, passenger detection systems are designed to turn on or off depending on whether someone is seated. If the person or animal is physically small in stature, the system may not turn on because it doesn’t detect an occupant. Similarly, if the occupant is seated too close to where the air bag is installed or isn’t seated properly, the air bag system may turn off.

In the 30-plus years that passenger vehicles have been required to include air bags, approximately 50,457 people have avoided a fatal accident in the U.S., according to government data.

The Solution

Maserati says it will inform affected operators no later than July 22 so that they can have their vehicles examined. If the evaluation determines the air bag ECU is compromised, a replacement will be installed free of charge. Maserati sent notifications relating to this issue to dealerships in late June.

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Sean ReyesLuxury Automaker Issues Limited Recall Due to Air Bag Snag