The first Takata recall for defective airbags began back in 2001, sparking a series of cascading recalls that eventually touched tens of millions of cars and bankrupted the company. Now, a new recall of around 10 million airbags to replace airbags that had already been replaced in previous recalls has been issued, though the end of the saga might finally be in sight.
Vehicles made by almost every automaker were caught up in recalls over the years because of airbags that could inflate too quickly and explode. At least two dozen deaths have been linked to the airbags, in addition to hundreds of injuries. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
The parts covered by the latest recall were installed in earlier repairs despite sharing the same basic flaw as the components they were replacing: explosive propellant that can become unstable in hot, humid climates and explode in a crash, spraying vehicle occupants with metal shards. At least 24 deaths and about 300 injuries worldwide have been linked to the lethal airbag defect.
The components were used because, being newly made, they were seen as a safer alternative to older inflators exposed to years of heat and humidity. The supplier told NHTSA it was unaware of any examples of the replacement parts exploding after being installed in a vehicle, according to filings with the agency.
It took Takata years to develop an airbag that does not use ammonium nitrate, which can break down over time in hot and humid conditions and ignite too quickly, meaning that cars in the south and west have been targeted for recalls first.
These new recalls are the last ones in a series of recalls scheduled as part of Takata’s 2015 settlement with the U.S. government, but the Associated Press said there might still be recalls in the future if Takata can’t prove by the end of this year “that inflators using ammonium nitrate with a moisture absorbing chemical are safe.”
According to NHTSA, 34.6 million airbags have been fixed and nearly 13 million defective airbags remain to be fixed. Which is as good a reminder as any to check to see if your car has them. You can do so on NHTSA’s website here. And if you think you’ve already checked after the last time you heard about the Takata recalls it’s a good idea to check again as the recalls have come in a series of waves, depending on priority.