According to consumer reports, approximately 33.8 million vehicles manufactured by 11 different automakers, were recalled for the replacement of the frontal airbags on the driver’s side, the passenger’s side, or both. Specifically, these airbags have been known to deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants.
As early as 2000, customers began filing complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the explosive deployment of Takata airbags, according to Reuters.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda Motor Co and BMW recently expanded recalls of vehicles with potentially deadly air bags after Takata boosted the number of vehicles affected to 53 million globally involving the 2003 to 2011 model years. Approximately 4.5 million of those vehicles are in the U.S. with many being involved in previous recall campaigns.
Since 2008, Honda alone has recalled about 20 million vehicles around the world with Takata airbag parts.
The airbags manufactured by Takata, a Japanese company and one of the largest suppliers of airbags in the world, had for more than 10 years denied that its products were defective, even as the numbers of severe injuries and deaths mounted.
The chemical propellant in these airbags (ammonia nitrate pellets), responsible for inflation, can de-stabilize over time due to environmental factors such as temperature changes and high humidity conditions. When this happens, it can cause excessive internal pressure within the metal housing of the propellant, resulting in explosive deployment of the airbag and shrapnel injuries.
Six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the defective airbags and of the approximately 250 million motor vehicles on the roads in the U.S., more than 34 million are subject to this recall.
Not all of the cars with Takata airbags have been identified. A current listing can be found at www.safercar.gov; VINs are required to check if a car is subject to this recall.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, four factors have been identified as contributing to explosive deployment of the airbags and include damaged or problematic inflator components, the incorrect positioning of the inflator and airbag system in vehicles, the prolonged exposure to heat and humidity, and manufacturing variability. In addition, Takata, automakers and regulators have indicated that an additional contributing factor could be the breakdown of the adhesive on the aluminum tape used to seal holes in certain types of inflators, allowing moisture into metal housing of the propellant.
Injuries have resulted from airbags not deploying when they should, deploying when they shouldn’t and violently deploying accompanied at times by shrapnel.
If you are one of the lucky ones who have yet to suffer injury as a result of these defects, please have the airbag in any vehicle included on the recall list replaced as soon as possible.
If your vehicle is not currently listed on http://www.safercar.gov/, please continue to check the list as it is being updated regularly.