Honda, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, and Chrysler all make cars. Well, obviously. But this is not the only thing that these companies have in common. The key players in the evolution of automobiles all use airbags made from Takata, a company founded in 1933. Now, eighty-three years later, Takata is responsible for one of the biggest auto safety recalls in history.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 19 million vehicles in the U.S. alone have been affected by the recalls. The faulty Takata air bag inflators have contributed to ten fatalities worldwide, nine of them right here in America. The most recent one was in December 2015 with a 2006 Ford Ranger in South Carolina.
It turns out that Takata has gotten in trouble for their defective airbags before, but have always denied any responsibility on their part, until May of last year. On May 19, after the urging of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the company determined that a defect existed in some of its air bag inflators. The inflators were made by a repellent that can degrade over time, leading to ruptures. The NHTSA has played a major role since then in attempting to find out exactly how many and which cars are unsafe to drive due to the airbags. On November 3, 2015, the association ordered twelve of the now fourteen vehicle manufacturers that use the recalled parts to speed up repairs on cars affected. Takata also consented to phase out the dangerous repellant’s use and to pay up to $200 million in penalties. Most recently, in late January of this year, Takata announced new developments on the defective inflators, expanding recalls even further.
Despite all this, Takata is not the only one to blame for faulty auto parts. Continental Automotive Systems Inc. recently announced that some 5 million vehicles are equipped with recalled air bags that have been made from 2006 through 2010. Fewer than 2 million of these vehicles are in the U.S.
Although the Continental recall is not necessarily comparable to Takata, some say that it makes things harder for auto manufacturers to make safe cars if there are fewer parts for them to use. The recalls also inconvenience consumers who are now in danger of being yet another victim of a faulty air bag. It is extremely important for car owners to stay educated and up-to-date with all auto recalls. Drivers should ask their automobile manufacturer for assistance if their vehicle is considered dangerous to drive due to Takata or Continental airbags.
For more up-to-date info on the Takata recall from the NHTSA, click here.
To find out if your vehicle is affected, enter the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) here.