Due to a software flaw that causes airbags to deploy improperly, Chrysler has issued a voluntary safety recall for certain 2013 model year Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, as well as some 2013 model year Ram Tradesman cargo vans. The recall affects vehicles manufactured from May 10, 2012, to June 7, 2013, or an estimated 224,254 vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
The error is in the Occupant Restraint Control Module of the affected Chrysler vehicles, the company noted in the documentation it submitted to the NHTSA. The ORC contains an error that can lead to side airbags being deployed on the wrong side of a vehicle during certain collisions. The sensors that detect side collisions were configured with the wrong polarity, meaning that a collision on the driver side would be read as one on the passenger side, and vice versa.
“In the event of a crash, the wrong side airbag deploying could leave a vehicle occupant unprotected at the point of impact and at higher risk of injury,” HighGearMedia.com’s Suzanne Kane noted.
The company noticed the issue after receiving a customer complaint of a collision on the driver side that only triggered the passenger side airbags. The supplier, Continental, informed Chrysler that the error stemmed from a software error in the ORC module. To date, there have been three accidents potentially related to the issue, one minor injury and no legal claims. Chrysler plans to notify dealers beginning in August 2013. The voluntary recall will reflash owners’ ORC modules.
Errors such as airbags deploying incorrectly constitute a major consumer safety risk and potentially damaging outcomes for both automotive suppliers and end manufacturers. To avoid such complications, companies should work to ensure their automotive software is bug-free and follows MISRA compliance guidelines. Tools such as static analysis software can help catch errors and guide developers on staying compliant, thereby avoiding costly recalls.
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