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Automakers to recall 5M vehicles for another air bag problem

In this  2007 file photo, a 2008 Honda Accord Coupe, left, is driven off the assembly line as a 2008 Acura TL waits during production in Marysville, Ohio. Continental Automotive Systems says in documents filed with the government Thursday, that moisture can get inside its air bag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail. (Paul Vernon / Associated Press)
In this 2007 file photo, a 2008 Honda Accord Coupe, left, is driven off the assembly line as a 2008 Acura TL waits during production in Marysville, Ohio. Continental Automotive Systems says in documents filed with the government Thursday, that moisture can get inside its air bag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail. (Paul Vernon / Associated Press)
Tom Krisher Associated Press

DETROIT – Another problem has developed with automotive air bags, and this one will bring recalls of up to 5 million vehicles worldwide.

Continental Automotive Systems said in documents filed with the U.S. government that moisture can get inside its air bag control computers, causing the power supplies to corrode and fail. If that happens, air bags may not inflate in a crash, or they could deploy without a crash.

The documents, posted Thursday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, said Continental will notify automakers, who will recall cars dating as far back as 2006.

Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes have issued recalls, and some unidentified Mazda and Volvo Truck vehicles are included. Continental said less than 2 million of affected vehicles are in the U.S.

Automakers will replace the computers at no cost to owners, according to documents. Honda reported two injuries from the problem.

The announcement comes in the middle of a crisis involving Takata Corp. air bag inflators. About 24 million U.S. vehicles are being recalled for that problem, which is the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least 11 people have died worldwide from the problem, and 139 have been injured.

In the documents, Continental said its problem first surfaced in January 2008 when it analyzed a malfunctioning control unit that was removed from a Mercedes. The company continued to investigate, and in early 2011, Continental was told of two inadvertent air bag deployments in Mercedes and Fiat Chrysler vehicles.

Continental said it knows of more than 600 parts that were returned due to the problem.

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