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Any auto engineers here? I want to post a blast against air bags

Discussion in 'Technology' started by bitzman, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
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    n post it next week but in a nutshell, once I heard Takata air bags killed 16 Honda owners, I got more ticked off.
    So what I'm going to advocate is all car owners with Takata airbags be invited to go back to a dealer in their brand, get them removed and those replaced with over the shoulder seat belts and a wide lap belt. I have no other solution. I tjink there shoild be congressional hearings, asking how it was even Mercedes got sucked into using this brand? And pessimistic enough to want to know when American engineers (and European ones) went to visit Takata in Japan, what was the entertainment? (spoken by a veteran of geisha houses)
     
  2. jjtjr

    jjtjr Karting

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    john truskowski
    I am not an engineer (thank god), but was in the automotive business for many years with GM. To answer your question in one word- outsourcing. Almost all production manufacturers design the car and the parts, including writing the specifications and then put the contract out to bid to suppliers. And we all know the lowest bidder gets the contract. The only difference between the quality of one part versus the other would be how stringent the specifications are. Example would be Kia may spec their radiators to made from light gauge aluminum with plastic tanks crimped on, and Porsche might want their radiators to be made from a high grade and gauge aluminum with aluminum tanks welded on. Obviously the Kia rads would be cheaper, and because Kia may order 25,000 of them and Porsche may only order 5,000 of theirs only makes the Porsche rads even more expensive. BUT the welded Porsche rads would be higher quality.
    The art of engineering is to make a part cheaper,using less material, cheaper, lighter, last longer and oh yeah, cheaper. But still perform the same function of the part it will replace, even if said part was doing its job well for years. Crazy world...
     
  3. Canuck550

    Canuck550 Formula Junior
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    RJA
    More pitchforks and shovels...
    Takata Issue has nothing to do with out sourcing or specs... I work in automotive for the past 30 years in a very senior position for a major parts manufacturer.
    Takata made design changes to the airbags beyond the specs without the full approval process, testing validation etc.... therefore they are liable
    The above statement you made holds true on design specs per manufacturer, but this issue is beyond that.
    Since the Takata issue there is a far more stringent processes in place to ensure no specification or design changes are made to any parts manufactured without full approvals and testing / validation through the supply chain to the OEM
    Big brother is watching with auditing etc, the landscape has changed significantly
    That is it in a nutshell
     
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  4. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
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    I still didn't post my evidence yet but in answer to the above, I think "time limit" should have been considered being written into the warranty before automakers began installing air bags. There should have been a time requirement (say five years) or mileage limit( say 100,000 miles). After thatt they bear no responsibility. The way it is now, every used car with Takatas is a time bomb on four wheels.I could probably find a $1000 tacky old Honda at the back of a used car lot that's 15 years old with 140,000 miles on it. Maybe it has two air bags and maybe four but check the car's history and maybe it had ten owners. Long long out of warranty. So if someone buys it, and has an accident and an air bag inadvertantly goes off, resulting in injury, is Honda or Takata still responsible? If your answer is "Yes" then the next question is: "Do you believe they bear the responsibility for the air bags until the car is taken off the road and crushed?" I think Detroit auto makers thought "most people trade their cars in after three years" but did automakers the world over realize that there is no statute of limitations on their responsibilities for air bags they installed on their cars? Or is there? It's a nightmare time bomb for automakers, especially the almost a dozen automakers who went Takata. At first automakers thought they were doing good by instituting air bags but now, with the Takatas aging by th day in millions of cars, it looks like they were doing bad. I wonder what the Center for Auto Safety says now? They are the ones who pushed this agenda but handily, they bear none of the legal responsibility...
     
  5. Canuck550

    Canuck550 Formula Junior
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    This has ZERO to do with the auto makers....Takata made design changes to the airbags beyond the specs without the full approval process, testing validation etc.... therefore they are liable for the life of the vehicle...in auto terms from Cradle to grave..PERIOD
     
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  6. jjtjr

    jjtjr Karting

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    I do know that GM used to replace any defective seat belts free of charge regardless of time or mileage. But I don't think that they were under any obligation to do so. I think that necessary service beyond the manufacturers warranty falls on the owner including safety systems. If you take that 140k mile Honda to get a state inspection and fail because of bad ball joints, who pays for the repair? The owner. Those ball joints affect the safety and use of the vehicle, and if they fail the driver could crash and possibly get killed, or kill somebody else. Now if there was an inherent defect with the design or material of those ball joints, Honda would have had a voluntary recall, or NHTSA would have made them recall those affected vehicles.
    As to the question of how long should a manufacturer or supplier be held responsible for defects in design, material or workmanship that I feel is a case by case subject. GM was in trouble years back from the CK trucks that had side saddle gas tanks. They would catch fire in side impact collisions, and the model years affected were 1973-1987. If GM ended up losing that case, it would have bankrupted them.
    In the end that is what NHTSA is there for, to police the transportation industry and that is why companies like GM have huge legal departments. ;)
     
  7. jjtjr

    jjtjr Karting

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    I'd be willing to bet that Takata attorneys wont be alone on the defense stand. OEM's will be present (to point their fingers an Takata). Litigators seem to like to invite as many defendants as they can to help split the pie up.
    Also, who does the crash testing necessary to meet Federal safety standards? Do you remember the Ford Explorer/ Firestone tire recall mess? Auto manufacturers are somewhat responsible for the parts that they bolt on to their products just like other companies that get sued for packaging defects. Especially if the litigators find out that they were aware of the defect.
     
  8. Canuck550

    Canuck550 Formula Junior
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    Do we see OEM's being called on this issue or just Takata...enough said.
    All costs being covered by Takata for recalls etc.
    I am out....
     
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  9. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
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    Finally got the essay done. Let the brickbats fly...

    Airbags : From Life Savers to Killers on the Prowl

    Oh, we would still have seat belts, and there would still be a law to buckle them but the saving grace of every serious accident would be the air bag.

    Now the air bag has turned into our enemy.

    The problem is faulty inflators. They may inflate even when there is no accident or worse in an accident, you are hoping for a bag to absorb the energy but as the bag opens along with it comes enough shrapnel to look like you were attacked by people with machetes.

    It wasn’t only Japanese companies like Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, and Subaru that had Takatas. So did Ford, Mercedes and Pontiac. Two years ago the recall to put in better bags was 19 million vehicles in the U.S., the most massive recall in auto history but it’s no doubt a lot more now.

    THE PLUS SIDE”
    OK, the pro-air bag people can point to the NHTSA statistics of over 37,000 lives saved between their initial adoption in 1975 and 2012. But that statistic is now being slowly crept up by the Bogie of bad air bags that kill you.

    In the beginning there was the worry people would depend solely on the bags and not buckle their seatbelts. So when they went into cars we still had the belts.

    The idea of the air bag is to soften the blow and spread it out so, say, the steering wheel doesn’t cave in the driver’s ribs.



    THE PARTS

    There are six ingredients to a system: an accelerometer; a circuit; a heating element; an explosive charge; and the bag itself.
    When the accelerometer detects an impact a spark is sent to ignite the propellent, usually solid pellets of sodium azide (NaN3), which explodes. The explosion produces nitrogen gas (N2~) at a speed of 200 mph, in 1/25 of a second.

    THE INFLATOR IS THE VILLAIN

    Sounds good, right?

    But the problem with Takata’s airbags is that the inflator—the metal cartridge packed with propellant wafers—sometimes ignites and when the housing ruptures, pieces can fly through the bag. And who’s at the soft end of the bag? The driver and passengers.

    One thing the engineers didn’t plan for, and I say shame on then for not devising a way to test for it, was what cumulative years of exposure to high heat and humidity in certain areas of the country (particularly Texas and Florida) would do to the propellant wafers. The ammonium nitrate propellant—a chemical than is sometimes used in making bombs—then burns too hot and too fast, creating pressure the metal housing was not designed to contain.


    A SAD SOLUTION THAT NOBODY LIKES

    So here’s the problem. There are millions of cars with these faulty air bags. Takata has tried to replace some with updated ones but you have to ask, in some of these cars, you’re talking the existence of thousands of $1000 used cars with 200,000 miles on them found at the back of a used car lot. a car that has gone through ten owners. How far should the manufacturer’s responsibility extend? I say set limits either mileage wise, say 100,000 miles or model year wise, say five years. Otherwise all those old beat up cars are still accumulating mileage, some of them heading for the air bag rupture. But that will only apply to cars being built now, unless you could force through legislation to make it retroactive.

    More effective would be removal of the air bags and replacement with good old-fashioned belts. I wouldn’t mind taking my 2015 car in and having seat belts and shoulder harnesses and the air bags taken out, but I would want them NASCAR-style wide seat belts and two over the shoulder straps. And then you would have to reinforce the floor or they would just pull out. We are talking hundreds of dollars per car. The women won’t want to wear them because the belts will get their clothes dirty. But we have to have an emergency exit from this situation, so to speak, because let’s face it, the automakers weren’t looking down the road far enough when they went with air bags. They weren't looking at faulty performance due to materials degrading.

    They thought they would be good forever. They made us think that (I even remember TV commercials touting air bags)

    They were wrong. Dead wrong.

    Opinions?
     
  10. Protouring442

    Protouring442 F1 Veteran
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    First, to your solution. It won't work. Racing harnesses rely on other protective devices to keep you from breaking your neck when you hit a solid object.

    As to the airbags and time, some companies did understand this. Mercedes used to have a sticker in the door jamb telling when the airbag should be replaced.

    [​IMG]

    We seem to have forgotten that everything has a life expectancy. The more automated cars become, the more things will have to be inspected and replaced on a regular schedule to ensure they're still operating properly and safely.
     
  11. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Brian Crall
    I have been in the car business since long before air bags came along and I don't remember ever being told they would last forever. Quite the contrary, we were told from the very beginning they were due for replacement at 10 years. They have been so reliable that number has been doubled.

    I don't remember being told they would be perfect. In fact we were told there would be some instances of failure in a mass production setting. They have proven to be far more reliable than the best estimates.

    Have they killed people,.....yup, sure have, so have seat belts and no one in their right mind even tries with any seriousness to suggest that either have not saved far more lives than they have cost.


    I don't know what perfect world you live in but in mine things are not perfect and when we identify a problem we subject it to real analysis and work to fix it and that is exactly what is being done.
     
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  12. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
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    That's where me as a chronicler of history differ with engineers. They are willing to expect a certain failure rate as the price for getting a product out on the market sooner rather than do extra testing to weed out flaws. I was there at the beginning of air bags, even visiting safety labs in Detroit, and I don't remember anyone saying "these things have to be replaced every ten years." But somehow the ten year "life expectancy" of the air bag didn't get mandated. It should have, requiring private parties or dealers to not be able to sell a car approacing the ten year old birthday until the bags were changed. Now the automakers are dragging their heels in changing them and used car dealers, well such a requirement could put them out of business. I don't know what to compare it too, let's say gins, there is some gun on the market , say the Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro--that explodes on occasion , people just accepting that it's a cheap gun, it's going to happen every once in a while. According to Bloomberg News :because of defects of design and manufacturing, nine different models of Taurus handguns can fire unintentionally when bumped or dropped or when the safety is on and the trigger is pulled. Taurus agreed to repair or buy back, for as much as $200, any of those models owned by people in the U.S. and its territories—an estimated 955,796 guns, according to the settlement. (The cut-off date for the offer was Feb. 6.) The company denied any negligence, wrongdoing, or defects in its firearms and also denied that its offer to fix its guns was a recall."
    What will happen, if air bags kill thousands, is there will be congressional hearings and an investigator will find e-mailed memos in automakers' files where they knew the Takata bags were flawed but hoped no one would notice. The memo writers could get jail time. It's going to take a few convictions to get engineers to step up to stop dangerous devices being put in cars.
     
  13. Protouring442

    Protouring442 F1 Veteran
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    I don't know about Takata, but I know GM engineers were none too happy about airbags being mandated. Remember all that NHTSA. "we didn't know short women and children would be at risk" thing? Turns out the NHTSA did know. They knew because GM engineers had sent over all the data from Oldsmobile and thier investigations into airbags back in the early 70s.
     
  14. Wade

    Wade Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Wade O.
    My experience is with fighter aircraft ejection seats which have "explosive squibs" that are time-change items. To me, I expect that airbag "inflators" would have the same requirements.

    Also, I recall that the 80's Saab 9000 had explosive charges for its seat-belt retractors, which also had time-replacement requirements.
     
  15. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Lots, if not most cars at this point have explosive retractors.

    As far as the life of airbags. What were were told was the bag itself was the issue. The industry was concerned about the bag material itself becoming compromised from the folds and tight compression.

    Like I said before, from even before they were placed in production the industry made it very clear there would be a lifespan and they were expected to require replacement. No one ever told us it was good for life.
     

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