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Your Airbag Replacement Could Be Defective

Drew Duncan
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan and Cole, LLP

Blog Category:
7/1/2015
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Takata recently expanded the recall of its airbags to 34 million vehicles made by 10 automakers after being pressured to do so by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is the largest recall in U.S. history and the first time the NHTSA is taking such an aggressive role in managing a recall. In a recent update, Takata officials announced that some of the airbags already repaired will need a second replacement airbag. Both Takata and NHTSA are not certain how many vehicles are involved, but it is estimated to be at least 400,000.

Important Information Consumers Need to Know

Takata believes the problem is caused by the airbag’s inflator—a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers—that can rupture in a crash, causing metal shards from the airbag to be sprayed inside the vehicle. This has caused hundreds of injuries and at least six deaths.

Takata officials have committed to replace inflators in older vehicles and replace the ‘batwing,’ driver-side inflators installed after the initial recall. This is why some airbags will need to be replaced again. In addition, there are questions about the chemical propellant in the airbag, ammonium nitrate, which has been found to be unstable in high humidity and heat and has contributed to the explosions. Takata plans to continue using a stabilized version of this chemical.

While Takata has increased production of replacement parts, it could take between two to five years to replace all the effected airbags. Here is other important information regarding this recall:

  • You can use NHTSA’s VIN-lookup tool to determine if your vehicle is included in the recall. You will need your vehicle identification number (VIN) found on the driver-side dashboard corner of your vehicle. Check regularly because the list is being updated as more information is known. Vehicle manufacturers also have information about recalled vehicles on their websites.
  • Replacement parts are first being sent to high heat and humidity states such as Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, California, and the Gulf Coast states.
  • Your dealer will notify you when your replacement parts are in, so you can schedule an appointment. If you call your dealer, someone may give you an approximate date for when your new airbag will be available.
  • Your recalled airbag will be repaired at no cost to you.

This is the most complicated recall to date, and news about it has changed frequently. It is important to stay informed on the status of the recall and the schedule for repairs if you have a vehicle on the recall list.

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Category: Auto Accident

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