A new recall has been issued by Toyota regarding Takata airbag inflators. This recall is for vehicles in Japan only and affects 1.6M vehicles that were recalled, inspected and deemed safe enough to not repair earlier this year. Nissan recently reported a previously inspected vehicle’s airbag inflator exploded, seriously injuring a passenger. This prompted Toyota to issue this massive recall. The company will replace the airbag inflators with a Takata model that does not contain ammonium nitrate.
Apparently, Toyota Motor Corp wanted to get in on Ford’s bird flipping action and smacked already beaten up Takata Corp yet again. This time, the Japanese powerhouse automaker issued a statement about previously recalled and inspected Takata airbag inflators. Toyota recalls 1.6M vehicles, says Takata airbags still unsafe.
So far, this recall only affects vehicles in Japan, including roughly 20 domestic models made between 2004 and 2008. The popular Vitz compact is one of the recalled models. These vehicles were originally recalled and inspected in May and June of this year when it was determined that the vehicles’ ammonium nitrate inflators were safe.
Then a passenger in a Nissan Motor Company vehicle that had previously been recalled and deemed safe was injured due to a defective airbag inflator. Nissan issued a recall of about 310,000 vehicles in Japan after that incident.
Toyota isn’t satisfied with waiting to see if its previously cleared vehicles will have the same issues. The automaker announced that all ammonium nitrate airbag inflators would be replaced during this new recall. Of course, Takata will be making the replacement parts, a fact that wouldn’t give me any peace of mind if I were one of the vehicle owners affected.
To date, the defective ammonium nitrate inflators have caused eight deaths by spraying shrapnel in the same manner as Claymore anti-personnel mines. Nineteen million vehicles in the U.S. have been recalled thus far; this latest news could cause that number to increase.
Takata cannot keep up with the demand for replacement parts. The company is facing severe financial problems, including a $70M fine from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On top of the fine, the NHTSA agreement requires Takata to cease making airbag inflators containing ammonium nitrate. Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement could result in the fine increasing to $130M, the largest civil fine in the history of the auto industry.