An airbag can save your life if you’re ever in a crash, but that’s only possible if the safety device deploys as intended. For more than 105,000 Jeep vehicles, that might not happen, leading federal regulators to open an investigation into the matter.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into about 105,000 model year 2012 Jeep Liberty equipped with airbag control computers that could fail.
According to a notice [PDF] posted by the agency, the Office of Defects Investigation has identified 44 complaints from owners of the 2012 Jeep Liberty related to the airbag system failing to operate properly in a crash.
The issue involves the Occupant Restraint Controller module that detects crashes and controls deployment of the air bag system components. If this system fails to operate correctly, the airbag could fail to deploy, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. So far, NHTSA says it is unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the potential defect.
In some cases, owners of 2012 Jeep Liberty vehicles report that the airbag warning light came on. Several owners say the problem was corrected by replacing the computer, while other say they continued to drive the vehicle with the light on.
One owner says that after the airbag light unexpectedly came on and failed to go off, he took the car to be fixed. The tech at the dealership notified him that the ORC module was faulty and would need to be replaced at a cost of $440.
A number of the owner complaints include similar experiences with dealers reporting that the modules needed to be replaced.
“Around 91,100 miles the airbag light came on the dashboard upon starting the car,” another owner reports. “The light stayed illuminated constantly for approximately three days until it was put in the shop. This car has never been wrecked. This car has never been wrecked… after reading how many complaints there are I feel that this should be a safety recall.”
NHTSA says that its preliminary evaluation of the vehicles will assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequence of the alleged defect.
Owners of model year 2012 Jeep Liberty SUVs who experience the issue can file a complaint with NHTSA’s consumer data base.