You may have seen ongoing news reports about Takata airbags potentially exploding when triggered. An explosion can have severe consequences, shooting fragments of the airbag inflator and/or its cover into the passenger compartment with extreme force. To date, authorities have confirmed at least 15 deaths and 278 injuries from exploding Takata airbags in the U.S. alone.
To address this situation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated recalls to replace more than 69 million Takata airbags in over 42 million vehicles from 19 automakers. However, limited repair part availability has forced NHTSA to prioritize replacements based on risk, and consumer apathy has resulted in large numbers of vehicles going unrepaired even when parts are available. If you have received a Takata airbag recall notice is critical that you not ignore it.
What Causes This Issue?
The root of the problem is the chemical used in the airbag inflators – ammonium nitrate. Over time, especially in very humid climates, the chemical absorbs moisture that makes it unstable, causing the inflator to explode rather than burn at a controlled rate when ignited. Explosions are far more likely in vehicles that have spent significant time in high humidity climates, and these areas are at the top of NHTSA's replacement schedule.
Which Takata Airbags Are Affected?
Test data has also revealed that a particular subset of defective Takata airbag inflators used in 2001-2003 model year Honda and Acura vehicles do not contain a desiccant to absorb moisture and have a significantly higher risk of dangerous ruptures during air bag deployment. To prevent possible injuries and fatalities, NHTSA has issued an urgent recommendation that consumers not drive those vehicles until the airbags are replaced. The higher-risk inflators were used in 2001-2002 Honda Civics, 2001-2002 Honda Accords, 2002-2003 Acura TLs, 2002 Honda CR-Vs, 2002 Honda Odysseys, 2003 Acura CLs and 2003 Honda Pilots. Ford has made a similar recommendation for certain 2006 model year Ranger pickups.
What Steps Should I Take?
Any owner of a vehicle who receives a recall notice regarding Takata airbag replacement should contact their local dealer and schedule an appointment to have an auto repair done as soon as replacement parts are available. Any motorist who is unsure whether their vehicle is part of this (or any other) recall can find out by visiting www.safercar.gov
and entering their car's vehicle identification number (VIN). The site also provides extensive information on the Takata airbag recall, including the vehicles affected, a timeline of NHTSA actions, recall completion rates by automaker, FAQs and other related documents.
Automotive safety is a key concern of AAA, and the association supports NHTSA's ongoing efforts to ensure consumers have updated information on a variety of safety issues, including the Takata airbag recall. However, information on these important matters is only valuable when followed up with appropriate action and auto repairs. Don't put yourself or your passengers in harm's way. If you receive a Takata recall notice, have the airbags replaced by a local dealer mechanic as soon as possible.
Finding Quality Auto Repair
AAA recommends that you plan ahead for vehicle service by finding an auto repair shop and technician you can trust before you need them. AAA.com/AutoRepair
provides information on nearly 7,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities that have met AAA’s high standards for appearance, technician training and certification, insurance coverage and customer satisfaction. AAA regularly inspects every Approved Auto Repair facility and surveys their customers to ensure ongoing performance. In addition, AAA members receive special benefits that include auto repair discounts, an extended 24-month/24,000-mile parts and labor warranty, and AAA assistance in resolving repair-related issues.