Over 30 million vehicles sold in the United States and around the world, and manufactured by no fewer than 12 different automobile manufacturers, have been recalled. This has been done in order to replace faulty frontal airbags installed on the driver side, the passenger side, and in some models- on both sides.
The malfunctioning airbags, made by the leading international auto parts supplier, Takata, have been installed in cars sold between the years 2002 and 2008. The recall has been expanded, however, up to and through 2014 in a number of cases. Some of the brands in this recall includes: Honda, Acura, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and General Motors.
The airbags have been found to pose a danger of suddenly and unexpectedly deploying with an explosive force that has injured and killed some of the occupants of these vehicles.
It has been determined by special investigators that the problem is caused by the airbag inflator device. This is a metal cartridge that is loaded with a powerful chemical propellant. Experts have determined that it is this cartridge which is faulty and, in a number of cases, has ignited- causing a dangerous and sometimes deadly explosion. Should the inflator housing rupture during a crash, high-velocity metal shards from the malfunctioning airbag may be sprayed throughout the cabin on either side of the vehicle. It has been successfully argued that this is an entirely unacceptable output for an item advertised as a safety device.
The task of putting a finger on the cause of the malfunction and determining which of the many Takata inflator designs have, and can potentially, cause damage has been very difficult for the company. The automaker and many independent investigators have devoted a huge amount of time to the project.
Much to the dismay of the Takata corporation, the investigation has revealed that there are more causes and more contributing factors to the airbag malfunction than was first expected. Not the least of these contributing factors is substandard quality control in the manufacturing process. Other factors contributing to the misfiring airbag cartridges include sensitive components being subjected to years of exposure to high heat and humidity.
The lengthy investigation revealed that even substandard design elements of some of the vehicles themselves are to blame. If, for example, the propellant wafers erode or break down from exposure to high heat or humidity, the propellant will burn more rapidly than it should. This will create a dangerous amount of pressure within the inflator body, making a premature and explosive deployment likely.
In it’s latest update on these recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has put out a call for applications for an independent monitor in order to remain in compliance with the terms of a Consent Order put into place on November 3 of this year. The Consent order between the NHTSA and TK Holdings Inc. conforms to an earlier Coordinated Remedy Order issued by the NHTSA. The duties of the Monitor are clarified by the Consent Order as well as Coordinated Remedy Order. Both orders are available to be viewed by the public.
NHTSA has published the complete list of vehicles (by model-year, make-and-model) that are affected by the 2015 Takata airbag recall. Owners of these vehicles or anyone who may be affected by the recall may use NHTSA’s Vehicle Identification Number lookup tool to find out whether or not their VIN number matches one of the nearly 19 million cars, trucks, and SUVs made by the 12 automobile manufacturers whose products were equipped with these faulty airbags.
The Takata airbag recall has been the largest and most costly automobile recall in the history of the automobile industry.
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