According to an article in today’s New York Times, approximately 34 million vehicles in the United States will be recalled due to defective airbags. This is set to be the largest recall in history–bigger, even, than the 31 million bottles of possibly tainted Tylenol capsules recalled in the 1980s. While the precise care models to be recalled have not yet been released, Takata airbags have been used in vehicles manufactured by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a web page that will keep consumers up to date about information as it becomes available: NHTSA page for Takata Air Bag Recalls
The airbags in question were made with a propellant that degrades over time, leading to unexpected ruptures that sent metal shrapnel into the face and body of the driver and/or front seat passenger…even when the car is in motion. The deaths of at least six people have been tied to the defective airbags, and more than 100 have been injured.
Complaints about exploding airbags started way back in 2000, but no serious action was taken. Last week, Honda, Toyota and Nissan recalled more than 11.5 million cars worldwide because of defective airbags. Today’s announcement was met with optimism that something might actually be done to make consumers safe, and horror that it has taken this long to bring an equipment manufacturer in line.
“Folks shouldn’t have to drive around wondering if their airbag is going to explode in their face or if their car is going to be on another recall list,” said Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and a key figure in a congressional investigation into the defective airbags. “Let’s hope Takata’s admissions today tells us the whole story.” [New York Times, May 19, 2015]