Takata Air Bag Recall
Defective Air Bags
Announced at the end of 2014, the Takata air bag recall initially affected approximately 7.8 million vehicles made by 10 different automakers, including Honda, GM and Ford. Takata, a major parts supplier, installed airbags using an ammonium nitrate propellant in vehicles from 2002 to 2008.
By spring 2015, the recall had expanded to include 18 million vehicles, a number that nearly doubled on May 19, 2015, when transportation secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Takata agreed that their airbag inflaters are defective and expanded the recall even further. The nationwide recall now affects nearly 34 million vehicles from 11 different manufacturers.
The at-risk front airbags are found on the driver’s side, passenger’s side or both. They have the potential to explode, launching shrapnel into the vehicle and causing injury or even death. The horrific reports include shards of metal piercing the face and neck of drivers. At this time, five fatalities and more than 100 injuries are associated with the Takata airbags.
The expanded recall surpassed GM’s ignition switch recall numbers, potentially setting a new recall record in 2015. Encouragement and enforcement from the NHTSA led to the national recall, affecting 1 in 7 cars in the US.
Airbag Shrapnel Injuries
Victims of the Takata air bag problem have suffered a wide range of injuries from the problematic deployment of the air bag during an accident. These range from abrasions to puncture wounds to severe, life-threatening and even fatal cuts. Injuries tend to be focused on the faces and necks of those inside the car.
Injury reports include cases of shrapnel piercing the eyes of drivers, causing vision loss, blindness and even the loss of an eye. A Texas man died after his air bag deployed and released a piece of metal that struck him in the neck.
Other claims echo these stories, creating the picture of an air bag exploding metal and plastic pieces at the unfortunate occupants in the vehicle. The airbag shrapnel can spread so thoroughly and violently throughout the vehicle that in one case, detectives initially believed those involved were intentionally stabbed.
The collisions are typically low-impact with minimal damage to the vehicles at odds with the severity of injuries affecting drivers and passengers.
Air Bag Recall & Repair
Each automaker involved is handling the Takata air bag recall differently. Below is a brief description how some automakers are handling the recall as well as links to recall sites. The expansion of the recall from 7.8 million, to 33.8 million makes the following list only a partial one; see the NHTSA site for full details of all makes and models involved in the recall.
- Prioritizing owners Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii
- Encouraged to contact local BMW dealer if residing in these areas to arrange an appointment
- Driver’s air bag is not included
- Until fixed, passenger front seat should remain empty to avoid injury
- Prioritizing owners in Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Gathering replacement parts and contacting customers when they are available
- Chrysler vehicles have different inflators than others and are not faulty
- If affected, contact local Ford dealer to schedule an appointment for air bag replacement
- No issues currently identified but complying with recall under advisement from NHTSA
- Most of the previously reported GM-affected vehicles were incorrect and associated with a prior recall. Ensure your vehicle is actually involved before contacting a local dealer
- Most affected vehicles
- Immediate action required for owners in Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, California, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas
- If you haven’t been notified, take VIN details to local Honda dealer
- Replacement parts available upon appointment in high-humidity areas
- As parts become available, notices will be sent to vehicles in less-humid states
- Focused recall on sold or registered vehicles in Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii
- Replacing front and passenger air bag inflators
- If you’re vehicle is included, schedule an appointment for a replacement
- If a part isn’t available, instructions will be provided for how to proceed while the owner waits
- Notified owners affected and instructed them to bring their vehicle in for inspection and possible replacement
- Some areas of Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and U.S. Virgin Islands receiving additional attention
- Sufficient supply of airbags available to meet demand
- Schedule an appointment with local Subaru dealer for replacement
- No wait or targeted areas
- Focused on Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Guam, American Samoa or Saipan
- Front passenger air bag is being replaced
- If the part is unavailable, dealership will disable air bag temporarily until the part is available
- If you do not disable the air bag or receive the replacement part, do not drive your vehicle
- If an owner lives in a less-humid area, a local dealer can still disable the front passenger airbag
- Owners will be notified by mail when parts are available
Exploding Air Bags
Takata’s air bags use a propellant known as ammonium nitrate. Despite finding alternative solutions, Takata chose the compound because it’s incredibly inexpensive, small and light, creating more space-efficient air bags. Providing a compact, cheap air bag device establishes a competitive advantage.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound represented as NH4NO3, created from salt of ammonia and nitric acid. It’s most common use is fertilizer, but it’s the main component of the explosive ANFO, or ammonium nitrate fuel oil. It’s a hygroscopic compound, meaning it collects water molecules from its environment easily. Storing ammonium nitrates in humid areas is not advised because its explosive nature is easily affected by the moisture in the air.
In general, ammonium nitrate is a volatile combination, cycling through five solid states. Engineers at Takata worked to stabilize the substance, but it is no easy feat. In 2006, several explosions at occurred at its plant in Mexico due to quality control with ammonium nitrate. Takata remains the only auto parts maker to use the substance.
In air bags, the chemical compounds are placed in small tablets and used as propellants. Upon impact, an igniter heats the tablet, causing the air bag to fill with gas at more than 200 mph.
Over time, vehicles in humid areas may experience a breaking down of the propellant. This break down causes a more violent combustion, sending pieces of hot plastic and metal flying through the air bag fabric. Occupants are then at risk for maiming injury or death.
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Car Accident Lawyers
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- Consumer Reports, “Everything you need to know about the Takata air bag recall,” (Feb. 2, 2015). [Link]
- Ammonium nitrate, “About ammonium nitrate.” [Link]
- Karl Brauer, “Takata air bag recall could dwarf GM and Toyota recalls,” Forbes (Sept. 15, 2014). [Link]
- Yuki Hagiwara, Ma Jie & Craig Trudell, “No other supplier other than Takata has used this ammonium nitrate,” Automotive News (Oct. 27, 2014). [Link]
- Christopher Jensen & Hiroko Tabuchi, “It looked like a stabbing, but Takata airbag was the killer,” The New York Times (Oct. 20, 2014). [Link]
- Hiroko Tabuchi, “Crash death may be tied to a Takata airbag,” The New York Times (Jan. 29, 2015). [Link]
Is my car affected?
Additionally, see our breakdown additional information by automaker for affected vehicle owners.
Some of the vehicles included in the Takata Air Bag Recall:
- 2000 - 2005: 3 Series Sedan
- 2000 - 2006: 3 Series Coupe
- 2000 - 2005: 3 Series Sports Wagon
- 2000 - 2006: 3 Series Convertible
- 2001 - 2006: M3 Coupe
- 2001 - 2006: M3 Convertible
- 2003 - 2008: Dodge Ram 1500
- 2005 - 2008: Dodge Ram 2500
- 2006 - 2008: Dodge Ram 3500
- 2006 - 2008: Dodge Ram 4500
- 2008 - Dodge Ram 5500
- 2005 - 2008: Dodge Durango
- 2005 - 2008: Dodge Dakota
- 2005 - 2008: Chrysler 300
- 2007 - 2008: Chrysler Aspen
- 2004 - Ranger
- 2005 - 2006: GT
- 2005 - 2007: Mustang
- General Motors
- 2003 - 2005: Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 - Saab 9-2X
- 2001 - 2007: Honda Accord
- 2001 - 2005: Honda Civic
- 2002 - 2006: Honda CR-V
- 2003 - 2011: Honda Element
- 2002 - 2004: Honda Odyssey
- 2003 - 2007: Honda Pilot
- 2006 - Honda Ridgeline
- 2003 - 2006: Acura MDX
- 2002 - 2003: Acura TL/CL
- 2005 - Acura RL
- 2003 - 2007: Mazda6
- 2006 - 2007: MazdaSpeed6
- 2004 - 2008: Mazda RX-8
- 2004 - 2005: MPV
- 2004 - B-Series Truck
- 2004 - 2005: Lancer
- 2006 - 2007: Raider
- 2001 - 2003: Nissan Maxima
- 2001 - 2004: Nissan Pathfinder
- 2002 - 2004: Nissan Sentra
- 2001 - 2004: Infiniti I30/I35
- 2002 - 2003: Infiniti QX4
- 2003 - 2005: Infiniti FX35/FX45
- 2003 - 2005: Baja
- 2003 - 2005: Legacy
- 2003 - 2005: Outback
- 2004 - 2005: Impreza
- 2002 - 2005: Lexus SC
- 2002 - 2005: Toyota Corolla
- 2003 - 2005: Toyota Corolla Matrix
- 2002 - 2005: Toyota Sequoia
- 2003 - 2005: Toyota Tundra
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