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Summer Road Trip — Maybe Think Again as Airbag Recall Expands

Posted on July 18, 2017

Just in time for those summer road trips — Takata is expanding its unprecedented airbag recall to include another 2.7 million cars.

This is in addition to the 70 million Takata inflators already recalled from 42 million cars.  

Honda and Acura are the automakers most associated with serious defective airbags. It’s estimated about half of the 2001 to 2003 Honda and Acura vehicles may have a dangerous airbag inflator. But that’s just an estimate.  

This latest phase includes Ford, Mazda and Nissan and was sparked by the death of the 11th American.

The Hialeah, Florida man was killed when he was inside a 2001 Honda using a hammer to make repairs. The vehicle’s ignition switch was turned on which means the airbag was able to fully deploy. The airbag explosion caused the metal inflator to rupture and shoot out fragments of metal-like shrapnel.  He died one day after he was injured.

The Honda was under recall but had never received a repair. Honda says it sent out a dozen or so recall notices but many owners do not heed the warning. There are also instances when a car changes hands multiple times and it’s difficult to find the new owner.

There are millions of U.S. consumers still waiting to replace the potentially deadly airbags but production lags can’t keep up with the demand.

The cars involved in this phase of the recall are 627,000 Nissan Versa automobiles from 2007 to 2012. One half million were sold in the U.S.

Ford has not yet revealed which of its 2.2 million cars are covered.  

Mazda says about 6,000 B-Series trucks will need their airbag replaced.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Takata determined this additional recall was necessary as some replacement fixes didn’t work.

Airbag inflators use calcium sulfate as a drying agent.  Over time, the chemical can degrade making it less effective in preventing the airbag inflator ruptures.

So far 17 deaths globally and 180 injuries are attributed to exploding Takata airbags.

An estimated 13 million airbags have been replaced and it could take another three years before all of the airbag replacements are completed.

Takata recently declared bankruptcy and Key Safety Systems of Detroit has taken over its assets. The goal is to speed up production to better fulfill replacement airbag inflators.

The company has pled guilty and paid $1 billion in penalties to settle charges that it knowingly sold defective airbags. Another lawsuit claims at least five auto makers knew the airbags were defective but installed them anyway.

NHTSA is urging drivers to stop driving cars that are unsafe until they are fixed.

Safety advocates worry the recalls could expand even further.