Just when motorists thought their vehicle was safe to drive, some 10 million car owners are finding out they will need to replace their front airbags yet again.
The latest Takata airbag recall involves 10 million vehicles that had previously been recalled and repaired, but unfortunately the cars were fixed with the same dangerous inflators until a permanent replacement could be developed.
The Takata inflators have been blamed for the deaths of at least 25 people worldwide and hundreds of injuries.
The deadly airbags were found in vehicles manufactured by Audi, BMW, Honda, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.
It’s been seven years since Takata began recalling vehicles equipped with its faulty inflators that can explode as they age. The very airbags that are supposed to save lives, posed a deadly risk over time to drivers and passengers as they aged and were exposed to temperature and humidity. The problem was due to a deadly combination of chemistry and the way the inflators were designed.
The latest recall is part of the 70 million that the bankrupt company agreed to replace in a 2015 settlement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This new round of recalls announced today states that in the early stages of the recall, Takata replaced the old inflators with new ones made exactly the same way to buy time until a new safer alternative could be developed.
The component used by Takata to create a small explosion and inflate its airbags was ammonium nitrate. The problem was that this chemical can deteriorate over time. Investigators found that when the chemical was exposed to high heat and humidity to would burn far too quickly and explode. This would allow the metal canister holding the airbag to hurl metal shrapnel at vehicle occupants.
The new permanent replacements for these dangerous airbags do not use ammonium nitrate.
Takata, however, has until the end of 2020 to prove to the NHTSA that these new inflators that use ammonium nitrate with a moisture absorbing chemical are safe. Hopefully, they are, otherwise Takata will have to recall millions more inflators.
Some of the manufacturers of the affected automobiles have launched their own separate recalls for these vehicles. Subaru, for example, announced on Wednesday that it is recalling roughly a half-million vehicles to replace Takata inflators. Specifically, the Subaru recall covers vehicles from 2003 through 2014 model years (Forester, Baja, Impreza, WRX, Legacy and Outback models).
They are also including the 2005 and 2006 Saab 9-2x made by Subaru for General Motors.
Other auto manufacturers that have already announced their own separate recalls are Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Mazda.
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