BMW has agreed to demands from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to replace driver’s-side air bags nationwide. NHTSA has been pushing companies to recall older cars with air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. As has been widely reported, the air bags can explode with too much force and spray shrapnel at drivers and passengers. At least five deaths have been blamed on defective Takata inflators.
The decision affects 140,000 BMW 3 Series cars made between January 2004 and August 2006. No problems with BMW vehicles have been reported. In early 2014, BMW recalled 574,000 cars in the U.S. Several automakers have been slow to expand the recall. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler have joined the list.
BMW is the last automaker to agree to replace air bags in all affected cars nationwide. About 15 million cars have been recalled in the U.S. in total. Initial recalls were limited to states with high levels of humidity. NHTSA has said that the air bag inflator propellant, ammonium nitrate, can burn faster than designed if exposed to prolonged airborne moisture. When that happens, the propellant can blow apart a metal canister meant to contain the explosion.
Takata has refused the NHTSA’s request for a nationwide recall of driver’s side inflators, about 8 million in total, and it says it has tested more than 1,000 air bag inflators from other regions without a single failure. But the company will still make replacement parts for the automakers that are expanding their recalls. It hasn’t been decided whether Takata or the automakers will pay the extra costs involved. In total, 10 automakers have models with Takata driver and passenger air bags. There could be as many as 30 million vehicles with the air bags on our nation’s highways.
Source: Claims Journal
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