According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Takata Air Bag Recall Information report, the Takata airbag recall has been “the largest and most complex safety recall in United States history.”
This has left many consumers asking questions about their own safety. When a recall takes place on this scale, it’s natural that drivers would be concerned. Understanding the recall and whether or not your vehicle is affected is the first step in staying safe.
The cause of the defective airbags has been traced back to an ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. In some cases, the airbag’s inflator has ignited with explosive force, shooting metal shards through the vehicle. Some environmental factors contribute to the airbag malfunctioning, including moisture, high temperatures, and vehicle age.
Recall of Massive Proportions
If you are wondering, “Which cars are on the Takata recall list?” you are far from alone. Automobiles from 19 different manufacturers that were produced between 1995 and 2000 were involved. To date, 56 million airbag inflators have been recalled.
The Takata recall began in 2014 and is still going strong today. On November 18, 2014, the NHTSA called for a national recall of Takata airbags. Honda and Ford quickly followed suit, recalling almost 6 million vehicles in the year 2014 alone.
In 2015, following more recalls, NHTSA published a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) look-up tool on their website so consumers can look up their specific vehicle. What many consumers were unaware of at the time was that additional recalls were constantly being updated. It was necessary to recheck your vehicle to make sure it hadn’t been added to the list.
In 2016, the Department of Transportation announced a more aggressive recall schedule. This new schedule gave priority to the riskiest vehicles that were located in climates that made the airbags more susceptible to malfunctioning.
In 2017, Takata filed for bankruptcy. The cost of replacing all of the airbags combined with lawsuits and fines caused the company to run out of resources. Injured consumers filed a class action lawsuit. The result of the auto airbag settlement was that the manufacturers agreed to give up some of their monetary claims and contribute $90 million to the $137 trust fund.
In 2018, a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved a plan presented by Takata to create a trust fund to compensate victims of the malfunctioning airbags. Car owners were forced to wait for available resources to have their vehicles fixed. Authorities became concerned with consumers in the hot, humid climate of southern Florida.
In 2019, a 16th U.S. death was confirmed in a Takata airbag rupture due to an airbag malfunction. The victim was killed just three months after purchasing the vehicle. Worldwide, an additional seven deaths have been attributed to Takata airbag malfunctions, with over 290 injuries sustained.
The NHTSA keeps a defective airbag recall list that consumers can search. Since vehicles of all makes and models have been affected, a VIN search is the only way to really know for sure whether your vehicle is on the list.
Instead of waiting for a notification in the mail, proactive car owners can search their VIN online. If your vehicle is on the recall list, a repair should be scheduled as soon as possible. The repair has to be scheduled with a dealership that services the brand of the vehicle. They are qualified and authorized to replace the airbag at no cost to you.
Some dealers have had a high demand for airbag repairs, making the waiting lists long. As long as the dealership has the parts on-hand, the repair can typically be completed in a matter of a few hours.
If a repair cannot be completed due to lack of parts or overbooking, some cars can still be driven as long as they are not on the no-drive list. However, the NHTSA has advised consumers to be cautious if the vehicle is driven in a hot, humid area and it is older than a 2012 model.