There have been plenty of airbag-recalls recently due to Takata's exploding inflators, but today's recall of the 2008 and 2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 is a little bit different. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the airbag systems on those vehicles may suffer from corrosion, and as a result, they might not deploy at all.
Details about the precise cause of the Audi recall haven't been published, however NHTSA documents reveal that the devices were supplied by Continental. An agency bulletin explains that "In certain vehicles, a power supply component in the airbag control unit may corrode and cause the unit to fail".
If that corrosion is severe enough, it might disable the airbag entirely, preventing it from deploying during a collision. The problem could also affect the seatbelt pretensioner, which helps restrain vehicle occupants during collisions. In both cases, the risk of injury during a crash would increase dramatically.
Audi notes that if this is occurring on your vehicle, the airbag indicator light on your instrument panel might be illuminated.
Audi will mail recall notices to owners, instructing them to take their vehicles to dealerships for service. The fix will involve replacement of the airbag control unit, which will be carried out at no charge.
If you own one of these vehicles and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834 and ask about recall #69O1. You can also call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #16V376000.