Takata is nearly doubling the size of its already massive recall for faulty airbags, making it the largest auto recall in history. The company has already recalled airbags used in about 18 million vehicles for this most serious problem. This latest move will bring the number of recalls up to about 34 million vehicles. That is nearly one out of every seven cars on U.S. roads today.
There have been deaths reported that were tied to the faulty airbags. But as we have reported, Takata previously resisted demands by regulators to get all the affected airbags off the road. The airbags have exploded, sending shrapnel into the face and body of drivers and front seat passengers. Victims appeared to have been shot or stabbed, according to police who responded to the reported accidents. Many other victims had serious injuries including vision damage from shrapnel hitting them in the eye.
Even though most of the fatalities occurred in Hondas, and most of the recalled cars were made by Honda, dozens of different models are also affected. Most of the cars were built between 2000 and 2011. Consumers can check to see if their car is included in the recall by going to a special website created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html.
NHTSA has finally realized that immediate action has to be taken. Takata had previously insisted that the airbag problems were limited to cars in regions with very humid weather, and it sought to limit the scope of the recall to those areas. NHTSA initially agreed to that limited recall, but later pushed Tataka and 11 separate automakers to expand the recall. The agency even fined Takata $14,000 a day, the maximum, for failing to cooperate with its investigation. The total fines were $1.2 million as of May 19. The daily fines were suspended on that date, but NHTSA says further fines are possible.
The companies affected by the recall include BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. This is said to be the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history. The recall is so massive, parts for repairs may be difficult to come by. NHTSA says that drivers should not wait. The agency’s plan is to make sure people work with their dealer to get the piece replaced as soon as possible, which depends on supplies being available.
NHTSA is in the process of doing its own testing and they are looking for an “effective remedy that is long-standing.” Drivers should immediately check the VIN of their vehicles. NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark R. Rosekind said that consumers need to get the VIN and check to see if their cars are being recalled. Their inflator is covered and they should contact their dealer and get that inflator fixed. Drivers can look up their VIN at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.
Before this, the biggest recall on record was from Ford, which recalled 21 million cars in 1980 for a transmission problem that could allow cars to shift out of park, according to Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book says that recalls of this size and scope are likely to happen more often as the auto industry becomes more global, pushing different automakers to use parts from the same suppliers. You can find out more about the latest recall at safercar.gov. We have a timeline that shows clearly that Takata knew about its problems with the airbags as far back as 2008.
Sources: CNN Money and Law360.com
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