Nearly 40 million vehicles in the US have been or are expected to be recalled to replace defective driver and passenger front airbags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata. Under certain conditions, such as a car crash, these airbags can explode and spray metal fragments into the vehicle, which can result in serious injury or even death to its occupants. Fifteen deaths and over 100 injuries have been reported in the U.S. as a result of this problem.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls this recall “the largest safety recall in U.S. history.” So far, 19 different automakers have recalled cars made from 2002 to 2015 to replace these airbags. More recalls are expected by December 2019. Takata filed for bankruptcy last year and is expected to go out of business.
According to the Transportation Statistics Annual Report, 2017, front air bags are estimated to have saved nearly 9,000 lives since 2000. However, the risk of injury from the Takata defective airbags led NHTSA, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of vehicles in the U.S., to order the recalls. The age of the airbag, as well as regular exposure to high temperatures, temperature swings, or high humidity are linked to the risk of explosion. Even if your car isn’t currently exposed to these conditions, it may have been in the past if it was previously owned by someone in another part of the country. Reports estimate that only 43% of recalled vehicles have been repaired.
Is Your Car On The List?
NHTSA urgently advises owners of 2006 Ford Ranger pickup trucks and 2006 Mazda B-series pickup trucks not to drive these vehicles. If you own one of these, you should call a local dealer and get the free repairs done now. In addition, airbags in certain Honda and Acura vehicles from 2001-2003 pose a higher risk and should be repaired as soon as possible. See more about this “Do Not Drive Warning” at NHTSA.gov.
To check the recall status of your car, go to safercar.gov and enter your car’s VIN number. Some vehicles may be scheduled for recall in the near future and will not show up on this search. NHTSA advises car owners to check this site at least twice per year. You can also sign up at NHTSA.gov/Alerts for e-mail alerts of future recalls.
Air bag repairs have been put into priority groups based on age and other factors so that the vehicles with the greatest risk of serious personal injury to drivers and passengers get repaired quickly.
If your car is on the list, NHTSA recommends that you call a car dealership (not an independent mechanic) to get the free work done as soon as parts are available and work can be scheduled, especially if you drive an older model car. This can help you avoid a serious injury, or even wrongful death, in the event of a car accident.
For More Information
NHTSA reminds you that a recall is serious because it means your car has a safety issue. Visit NHTSA Takata Recall Spotlight for more information.