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Final recall of Takata inflators issued

Under a 2015 settlement with U.S. safety regulators, Takata recently recalled another 10 million front airbag inflators sold to 14 automobile manufacturers. It is the last recall for these devices under the agreement. Vehicles affected will have the inflators replaced with the permanent remedy. The inflators were installed until a final, safe inflator was developed.

Cars affected by the recall include those made by Audi, BMW, Honda, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. Each will issue their own recalls after the automakers determine which models are affected.

"This recall is for Takata air bags that were previously used to replace older Takata airbags ('like-for-like' remedy inflators), and was scheduled to occur under the Takata Coordinated Remedy Order," the NHTSA stated.
"Consumers should check their vehicle identification number (VIN) for any open recalls and take their vehicle in for the free repair as soon as possible."

The problem with Takata airbags

The problem with the Takata airbags came to light in 2015, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into why airbags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate during six frontal crashes, two of which were fatal.

Further investigations revealed that Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the airbags. Over time, when the airbags are subject to high heat and humidity, the chemical can deteriorate. This causes the ammonium nitrate to burn too quickly, blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel into the vehicle.

In total, roughly 41.6 million vehicles with defective Takata air bags are under recall, according to the NHTSA.

The new permanent replacements do not use ammonium nitrate.

Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Largest recall in vehicle history

The Takata airbag recall is the largest one in vehicle history. Approximately 70 million inflators were recalled as part of the agreement with NHTSA and another 30 million worldwide. An estimated 25 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured as a result of flying shrapnel when the airbags inflated.

Unsettling is the fact that the NHTSA reports that the latest 10 million recalled inflators is only an estimate and that many of the temporary inflators were never installed in vehicles. The company said it doesn’t know how many vehicles were really affected. Nonetheless, the numbers are mind-boggling. Subaru issued recalls for nearly 500,000 of their vehicles to replace the temporary inflators.

All of the Takata recalls are being phased in by the age of the vehicle and location. Vehicles registered farther south, where conditions are hot and humid, receive first priority.

Takata not out of the woods yet

Takata still faces several, as yet, unresolved issues and has until the end of this year to prove that inflators using ammonium nitrate with a moisture-absorbing chemical are consumer-safe. It they are unable to prove this, then millions more inflators will need to be recalled.

Is your vehicle affected by the recall?

Owners can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled by keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number on the NHTSA website.

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