Mercedes-Benz forced to recall 400,000 vehicles over airbag fault

General view of a Mercedes car badge on the front grill of a car

German luxury manufacturer Mercedes is recalling over 400,000 of its most popular cars in the UK, after discovering a fault which could lead to spontaneous deployment of the vehicles' airbags.

The fault is centred around a spring in the steering column, which could cause connected wires to short-circuit and trigger the airbags prematurely.

It affects Mercedes' big-selling A-Class, B-Class, C-Class and E-Class models, as well as various related coupes and SUVs. These models make up the bulk of UK sales, and the recall encompasses cars built between November 2011 and July 2017.

Mercedes said there had been "around 30" incidents of airbags spontaneously inflating worldwide, but was keen to stress that there were no fatalities or serious injuries. This is in contrast to the ongoing Takata airbag scandal, which has caused 11 deaths to date in the US alone.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said: "We are recalling certain A, B, C, and E-Class, and CLA, GLA, and GLC, built between November 2011 and July 2017.

"If the steering column module clock spring is broken, the driver airbag warning light will be displayed in the instrument cluster, as well as a red airbag warning lamp. In rare circumstances, if the clock spring is broken and the wiring components are not sufficiently earthed this could lead to an electrostatic discharge which could inadvertently deploy the driver's airbag.

"Cars are safe to drive under normal operating conditions."

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