The Takata Air Bag Story Just Won’t End

by Terry Bryant

The New Year was barely upon us before the number of recalled Takata air bags and their faulty inflators got noticeably larger. During the first two weeks of 2019, Ford recalled around 782,000 vehicles in the U.S. (950,000 worldwide) while Fiat-Chrysler recalled over 1.4 million Takata air bags in the U.S., along with an undisclosed number worldwide.

Roughly 37 million vehicles equipped with 50 million defective Takata air bags are under current recall in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Defective “initiators” (which cause the bags to inflate during an accident) can explode when the air bags are deployed, sending pieces of shrapnel ripping through the bags and causing serious injury or even death. Since the defects were detected over 15 years ago, at least 23 people have been killed worldwide by the inflators and thousands more injured, some very seriously.

Included in the Ford recall are the 2010 Edge and Lincoln MKX; the 2010 and 2011 Ford Ranger; the 2010 to 2012 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ; the 2010 and 2011 Mercury Milan; and the 2010 to 2014 Ford Mustang.

Fiat-Chrysler’s recall involves the 2010 through 2016 Jeep Wrangler SUV; the 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup and 4500/5500 Chassis Cab trucks; the 2010 and 2011 Dodge Dakota pickup; the 2010 through 2014 Dodge Challenger; the 2011 through 2015 Dodge Charger sedan; and the 2010 through 2015 Chrysler 300 luxury sedan.

Though some of the recalls may be limited to specific geographic areas of the U.S., most Takata defective air bag injuries and deaths have occurred in the high humidity, southern-tier of states around the Gulf of Mexico. The recalls forced Takata of Japan to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017, and forced it to sell virtually all of its assets to pay for the recalls.

This is just the latest chapter in this historic and all-too-long litany of the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. The just-announced Fiat-Chrysler/Ford recalls bring to almost 10 million inflators under recall when added to similar Takata air bag replacement efforts involving Honda and Toyota.

Both Fiat-Chrysler and Ford’s recalls are parts of the carmakers’ phased-in replacement of all Takata inflators, an effort being managed by the NHTSA. Other carmakers are now entering this preemptive replacement phase, which involves ditching all Takata air bags in U.S. passenger vehicles.

More than three years after NHTSA took over management of Takata air bag recalls, roughly one third (16.7 million) of the 50 million targeted units have not been replaced, according to an annual report last year from the federal government and court-appointed monitor.

Owners can check to see whether their vehicles have been recalled for a Takata air bag defect by going to https://www.airbagrecall.com and keying in either their license plate or vehicle identification number.

If you or a family member has been injured by any defect in your car or truck, or any defective product, we at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help you any time, 24/7. Contact us now to arrange a free consultation.