Industry experts have been monitoring the situation with defective Takata airbags with great interest. Especially since the nationwide recall of defective cars is expanding by the day. At first, only six vehicle makes were part of the recall, but it now incorporates 15 vehicle makes and nearly 8 million cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was initially criticized for responding slowly to the emerging danger, but it is now aggressively approaching vehicle manufacturers and getting them to expand recalls of their automobiles.
WHY ARE TAKATA AIRBAGS CONSIDERED DANGEROUS?
When an accident occurs, these safety devices have to inflate in under a second to protect the driver and passengers. The only way to make this happen is by firing the cushion into the cabin using a combustible propellant. The propellant is housed in a metal canister inside the device compartment and has to do its job precisely, or the device will not work correctly.
However, many U.S. vehicles are driving around with defective propellant canister and inflator parts, and these can turn the safety device into a fragmentation bomb. When a defective propellant canister activates, instead of firing the cushion, it explodes under high pressure, showering the vehicle cabin with a cloud of razor sharp metal fragments. Although the numbers are rough at this point, four fatalities and more than 100 injuries are linked to defective Takata airbags, and the injuries have been gruesome. For example, a mother was killed when the air bag deployed after a gentle fender bender. The resulting canister explosion caused her to bleed to death while her children were in the car.
WHAT IS THE LATEST INFORMATION ON THE DEFECTIVE TAKATA AIRBAGS?
At first, the company blamed the defect on improperly stored propellant at their manufacturing facility. Later, their story changed, and the company instead blamed humid conditions in the southern U.S. on degrading propellant. Now, documents retrieved by Reuters have found that the company has acknowledged its manufacturing processes as the likely culprit. Bad welds, rust and foreign materials dropped into the propellant canisters (including chewing gum in one case) are now likely responsible for most of the incidents.
The company’s reckless manufacturing processes have also been made clear in the same Reuters documents. In 2002, a safety review of the company’s Mexico plant found a rate of defective parts that was eight times higher than what safety regulations allowed. The manufacturer has already admitted that it knew of the danger several years before alerting the public and NHTSA, and now it is clear that the company’s negligence is probably the reason for the danger.
Currently, 15 vehicle makes are believed to have been affected by defective Takata airbags. These include Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge/Ram, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Saab, Subaru and Toyota. Honda, Toyota, Dodge/Ram and Chrysler vehicles are considered to be most at risk. So it is highly recommended that consumers check online to see if their vehicle model is part of the recall and confirm that their vehicle is safe to drive.