Is Your Vehicle Is On The Air Bag Recall List? 4 Steps You Need To Take.
In the last 18 months, some 32 million vehicles have been recalled, making an estimated 50 million airbags at risk of exploding when deployed, even in minor crashes. And the recall list is far from done. An additional 20 million vehicles are expected to be recalled by December 2019, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some motorcycle airbags also have been recalled.
The seriousness of the ongoing airbag crisis is all too real, and getting worse. Fifteen Americans are dead and many more injured after defective Takata airbags in their vehicles exploded. Takata filed for bankruptcy in June, 2017. Citing reports of at least four deaths and six injuries, NHTSA is investigating why certain Hyundai and Kia sedan airbags failed to inflate in serious crashes. Specifically, the agency is examining the cars’ airbag control modules that were built by ZF Friedrichshafen-TRW, a German auto supplier that acquired TRW Automotive Holdings Corp in 2015.
So, where does that leave your family and you? Here are 4 steps to help keep you safe:
- Check Your Vehicle’s Recall Status Is your vehicle—new or used—on the recall list? Of the 50 million airbags recalled, only about 40% of owners have come forward to get their free repair. Like most recalls, owners don’t take action or downright ignore them. There are unrepaired vehicles almost 20 years old on the list below. Go to www.safercar.gov or NHTSA’s recall site and enter your vehicle’s VIN number, found on the dash near the windshield or on the door jamb. This will pull up any open recalls on your vehicle.
- Get Registered for Future Recalls Register to receive future recall alerts, because an additional 20 million vehicles are expected to be recalled for defective airbags by December 2019. Your repaired car could even be re-recalled, as in the case of Toyota vehicles called back because of incorrect replacement airbag installation.
- If You DO Get a Recall Notification, Don’t Wait to Call your dealer immediately to make sure replacement parts are available. Be warned, it can sometimes take months to get the parts.
- Don’t Drive It! Why should you be driving an accident waiting to happen? Ask your dealer to tow the vehicle to their shop and provide you with a loaner vehicle. Think about it. They sold you the car and don’t want you injured.
Air Bag Recall is the Largest in U.S. Automotive History
In case you don’t know about this problem, here’s a recap:
The fundamental problem with these airbags is the inflator. There’s a chemical inside the airbags that goes through a small explosion that rapidly expands the airbag in a crash. When the chemical is exposed to high humidity and significant temperature changes it breaks down, creating more surface area. NHTSA advises you to keep checking their recalls website in case your vehicle is added to the list or added again to the list.
Carmakers Make Texas and Houston a National Priority
Despite the danger, only about 40% of defective Takata airbags have been replaced, according to NHTSA. NHTSA has prioritized some states to receive amped up notification and replacement parts before others. These are mainly southern and coastal areas where the combination of heat and humidity is known to cause airbag parts to deteriorate more quickly. It’s this deterioration that causes defective inflator and propellant devices to deploy improperly in a crash, sending shrapnel shooting into the cabin.
One of these states is Texas, which has the second highest number of unrepaired vehicles nationwide. Within Texas, vehicle owners who live in the Houston area–where two air-bag related deaths have occurred–have been made a national priority. On March 15, manufacturers announced that Houston-area owners of affected Ford, Mazda, and Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks may schedule a repair in their driveways or office parking lots. Automakers also are paying people to go door-to-door to alert owners who haven’t fixed their cars, and they are offering loaners or a tow to a nearby dealer if needed.
These Older Vehicles are at Very High Risk
NHTSA and automakers are especially concerned about older vehicles equipped with so-called “alpha airbags” that carry a 50% risk of explosion. Twelve of the U.S. deaths have occurred in these vehicles:
- 2001-2002 Honda Civic
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2002-2003 Acura TL
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Acura CL
- 2003 Honda Pilot
- Certain 2006 Ford Ranger (Ford advises do not drive)
- Certain 2006 Mazda B-Series (Mazda advises do not drive)
If you own one of these vehicles, take immediate action to get it fixed or insist on a rented car until yours can be fixed. If you know someone who owns one of these vehicles, be sure to give them this information.
Edwards Law Firm has worked for over 50 years on automobile defects: gas tanks that exploded on impact; seatbelts that came unlatched during a crash, tire failures and more.
NHTSA keeps a running tally of vehicles affected by airbag recalls.