Porsche recalls vehicles with defective airbag control modules

Laguna Hills, Calif. — July 31, 2019 — Porsche Cars North America has recalled more than 7,500 vehicles potentially equipped with defective air bag control modules, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign affects multiple Porsche models, including:

  • 2016-2017 Porsche 911 coupes produced between June 30, 2015, and April 16, 2016.
  • 2016-2017 Porsche Boxster coupes produced between July 1, 2015, and March 15, 2016.
  • 2016 Porsche Cayman coupes produced between July 8, 2015, and April 18, 2016.
  • 2016 Porsche Panamera hatchbacks produced between June 23, 2015, and April 7, 2016.

The German automaker suspects just 1% of the recalled vehicles contain the defective components.

The Defect

The recalled vehicles potentially contain air bag control modules with defective capacitors that could cause current deviation, leading to changes in equivalent series resistance levels. ESR fluctuation could catalyze unexpected air bag and seatbelt pretensioner deployment or inhibit airbag functionality. Both outcomes increase the risk of an accident. As a consequence, the defect poses a serious safety hazard to owners and occupants. That said, the automaker has yet to receive reports connecting the defect to any accidents or injuries.

Timeline of Events

Porsche’s airbag control module supplier, ZF Group, based in Germany, received a report from Kia Motors in August 2011 describing a situation in which the owner of a vehicle featuring the brand’s products was involved in a collision, during which his air bags failed to deploy, according to NHTSA documents. ZF group investigated the incident and determined electrical overstress to be the cause of the incident. Less than one year later, another Kia owner, this one in Egypt, had a similar experience, which ZF Group again linked to EOS.

The parts vendor received four additional reports throughout 2015 — three involving Kia vehicles and one involving a Hyundai Motor Company vehicle — which detailed instances of air bag malfunction. ZF Group links all incidents to EOS and in January 2016 contacts the NHTSA for assistance. The company collaborated with various automakers, parts providers and the NHTSA that year to study the problem in-depth. The work continued into 2017, during which time ZF Group issued multiple customer communications and received new reports of air bag deployment failure.

Hyundai issued a voluntary safety recall for select vehicles outfitted with ZF Group airbag control modules in February 2018. Kia followed suit in June 2018, at which point the NHTSA advised ZF Group to launch an independent recall for its air bag control modules. The company filed the official Part 573 paperwork June 13, 2018. Porsche received a copy of this recall June 24, 2019 and on July 10, 2019, elected to initiate its own recall campaign.

The Solution

The German automaker intends to direct dealers to assess the air bag control modules in affected vehicles and replace them if necessary, free of charge. Porsche will notify dealers Sept. 15, 2019 and contact owners via first-class mail within 60 days of that date, per NHTSA documentation. Owners in need of more immediate assistance can contact Porsche customer service personnel by calling (800) 767-7243. Callers should use the recall identification code AKB4. Owners can also connect with the NHTSA directly using the Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236. 

Sean ReyesPorsche recalls vehicles with defective airbag control modules