Faulty Takata airbags mark the biggest automotive recall in U.S. history to date. 70 million airbags have been recalled worldwide since the issue was first announced in May 2016 and 19 million cars have been set for replacement bags. This number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming weeks, and has specifically impacted southern Florida residents.
It’s been found that Takata bags can fire out metal shrapnel upon activation, and many owners of the vehicles with Takatas have learned of the danger the hard way. Drivers in southern Florida are at the highest risk and several motorists have already been injured with one resident actually dying from a faulty bag. The shrapnel can fly at individuals extremely quickly, over 200 miles an hour, according to one attorney.
Sources have discovered the airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a chemical drying agent. Factors such as high temperatures and age can activate the airbags, and even minor fender benders can set them off. This is especially scary considering airbags are installed in order to save lives, not take them.
Many automakers have recently been added to the list, mostly for front passenger inflators, but also those on the driver’s side or both. Some of the carmakers listed include Audi, Nissan, Subaru, Daimler Vans, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Mazda, McLaren and Karma. Six models are being viewed as the biggest offenders, however. These are mainly Honda models manufactured in the early part of the new millennium, and include 2001-2002 Honda Civics and Accords, the 2002 Honda CR-Vs and Odysseys, 2003 Honda Pilots and the 2002-2003 Acura TL/CL. These six have at least a 50% chance of malfunctioning, making driving one extremely risky.
A group of Florida residents and leaders have banned together to plea with the public to check their cars for inclusion of the faulty bags, and dealerships in the area are being heavily stocked with replacement bags to accommodate. Owners of the models listed can bring their cars into any authorized dealer for inspection and replacement of Takata bags at no cost. The bags are easily swapped out, with the entire procedure taking about an hour, so wait time is minimal.
State Senate Minority representative Oscar Braynon is considering issuing safety notices through the state’s annual registration renewal. He hopes this will increase the likelihood of Florida residents taking notice before it’s too late. Currently, manufacturers of the vehicles who have submitted recall notices are required by law to notify all known owners immediately by first class mail. Most of the carmakers have also posted notices on their sites in order to increase awareness.
A notice on Honda’s site states: “The automotive industry is facing an unprecedented challenge in the recall and replacement of millions of Takata airbag inflators. We want to assure you that Honda is committed to addressing the needs and concerns of our customers who are affected by this issue. We stand behind the safety and quality of our products. The protection of the drivers and passengers in our vehicles is our paramount concern.”
Checking whether one’s car is included is as simple as noting the VIN number and entering it into airbagrecall.com. The site will let an owner know if the vehicle is unsafe and will provide the proper next steps.