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Air bag recall: Tennessee company refuses regulator request

Detroit –

A Tennessee company is heading into a legal battle with U.S. auto safety regulators after rejecting a recall request for millions of potentially dangerous airbag inflators.

The U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that Knoxville-based ARC Automotive should recall 67 million inflators in the U.S. because they could explode and fly into debris. Defective ARC inflators have killed at least two people and injured six others in the United States and Canada, according to the agency.

Most of the 284 million vehicles currently on U.S. roads are affected by the recall, but it’s hard to pinpoint that percentage. Some even have his ARC inflators in both the driver and passenger seats.

In a letter posted Friday, the agency told ARC that after an eight-year investigation, it had tentatively concluded that ARC’s driver and passenger inflators had a safety flaw.

However, ARC responded that there were no defects in the inflator and that the problem was related to a separate manufacturing issue.

The next step in the process is for NHTSA to schedule a public hearing. The company could then be taken to court to force a recall.

Also on Friday, NHTSA released documents showing that General Motors is recalling nearly one million vehicles with ARC inflators. The recall covers certain 2014-2017 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia SUVs.

The automaker said the inflator’s explosion “could hit the driver and other occupants with sharp metal shards, causing serious injury or death.”

Owners will be notified by letter from June 25, but it has not been fixed yet. When the letter is ready, another letter will come.

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