Certain car companies are now beginning to settle cases requiring they replace those defective and dangerous Takata airbags. That should be a relief.
Unfortunately, it turns out that other car companies also used Takata-made airbags and have not issued a recall to replace them! Why have they delayed for so long?
Inside Takata’s ammonium-nitrate airbags is a metal inflator—a cartridge filled with propellant wafers—which is supposed to inflate the airbag quickly but which can sometimes explode, ripping the airbag and spraying the inside of the passenger cabin with metal shards.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided that the problem came from the use of the ammonium-nitrate propellant without a drying agent, allowing damage via moisture, high temperatures, and age. However, after testing, in July 2017, Takata for the first time recalled airbags that used one particular drying agent as well.
As of June 2017, the airbags had killed twelve people and injured more than 180 others in the US.
The recall has at this point nearly tripled in size, but some car companies have delayed in telling car owners. One problem is that some do not have enough replacement airbags on hand to replace them immediately in millions of vehicles. Vehicles in high-humidity states are being prioritized. Takata has filed for bankruptcy; it has promised not to slow its production of replacement kits, but some of them are now coming equipped with other companies’ airbags. A USA Today article says, “Repairs are expected to take through the end of the decade.”
The NHTSA offers a VIN-lookup tool so that you can check whether your own vehicle needs its airbags replaced.
We’re investigating why some car companies have not issued recalls earlier, even when they knew they had defective Takata airbags installed in their vehicles. If you’ve only received a recall notice this year, fill out the form on this page and let us know.