Just as the auto industry began to recover from GM’s embarrassing (and deadly) defective ignition switch glitch, chaos struck the auto world again several months ago, after investigators discovered an odd defect affecting certain airbags made by Japan’s Takata Corporation. This discovery then prompted a massive recall of millions of vehicles.
Here’s an update and an FAQ on what’s happening with the recall.
What cars might be affected?
As we reported a few weeks ago, Takata airbags are present in dozens of popular makes and models produced over the past decade. These include Toyotas, Subarus, Nissans, Mazdas, Mitsubishi, Hondas, Fords, Chryslers, BMW, and GM cars. All told, 14 million vehicles have been recalled – 8 million in the United States. Honda has suffered the most – the Japanese automaker has had to recall 5-plus million vehicles just in the U.S.
Does my car have a defective airbag?
To figure out whether your car has been affected by the Takata recall, head to http://www.safecar.gov, and enter your vehicle’s VIN number on the website.
What is the problem with these airbags?
The problem is simple and terrifying. Under certain high humidity situations, the airbags can blow up aggressively, shattering a metal canister inside and releasing shrapnel like a bomb, which can lacerate passengers and drivers. To date, this defect has been linked to numerous injuries as well as five deaths.
Why does humidity trigger an explosion?
Federal investigators, along with Takata officials, suspect that chronic moisture exposure can speed up the combustion of ammonium nitrate in the airbag system. This generates excess pressure, when then shatters the inflator canisters. It’s unknown at this point how much humidity is needed to set off this ammonium nitrate defect.
How broad is the recall?
At first, investigators confined the recall to regions of the United States that are known to have high humidity, including the Gulf Coast States, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands and Guam. On Tuesday, the government sought to broaden the scope of the recall to all 50 states. This act would force the recall of an additional 8 million vehicles. Takata initially refused these demands from the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration. We will report more on that critical story in our next blog post.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective airbag or other auto part — or if you suspect that a damaged or defective part played a role in a recent car accident — contact the Washington D.C. defective product attorneys here at Regan, Zambri & Long to schedule a confidential consultation about your rights.
Here’s another article that gives a birdseye perspective on the Takata recall issue: The Exploding Air Bag Problem