Nearly 17 million vehicles worldwide have been affected by a recall on airbags produced by Japanese auto parts supplier Takata. This recall spreads across more than a dozen car manufacturers from model year 2002 to 2008. The defective airbags have been found to deploy improperly, injuring and even killing occupants. There have been at least 140 injuries and five deaths, some horribly gruesome, as a result of the faulty air bags.
In 2002, a Takata plant in Mexico was alleged to have allowed 6 to 8 times the acceptable limits of failure rates in airbag production. Then The New York Times wrote a story exposing the company for attempting to cover up the evidence of such failures, despite the fact that they discovered them back in 2004. It wasn’t until four years later that the company acknowledged any fault.
The United States Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended a nationwide recall in November to fix the issue. Takata later would become subject to daily fines for failure to cooperate with the developing federal investigation that was encouraged by two U.S. Senators. As part of the investigation, Takata vice president Hiroshi Shimizu listed the possible reasons for the ruptured inflators as: the age of the airbags, exposure to high temperatures and humidity, and issues with production.
Takata, the NHTSA, and various automakers have since had to appear before Congress to explain their actions related to this topic. An independent panel was formed in December, headed by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, to examine the procedures and protocols of Takata, and safety of the included airbags and their parts. The United States government has also ordered recalled airbag parts to be saved as evidence for future analysis and potential litigation.
Various recommendations have been made for those affected by this recall.
-Minimize driving as much as possible until issue is repaired
-Carpool with someone without an affected airbag
-Use public transportation in lieu of riding in affected vehicle
-Rent a car
Regions with high humidity have shown to be most affected by this problem. Toyota specifically has suggested disabling the potentially defective airbags in it’s models.
In February, all lawsuits related to the Takata recall have been consolidated. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered all complaints filed through federal courts be transferred to Judge Federico Moreno in the U.S. Disctirct Court in South Florida. “Centralization will eliminate duplicate discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings on class certification and other issues, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary,” the Panel wrote.
The affected vehicle makes are: Acura (certain models 2002-2006), BMW (certain models 2000-2006), Chrysler (certain models 2004-2008), Dodge/Ram (certain models 2003-2008), Ford (2004-05 Ranger, 2005-06 GT, 2005-08 Mustang), Honga (5.5 million cars from 2001-2011), Infiniti (certain models 2001-2006), Lexus (2002-2005 SC430), Mazda (certain models 2004-2008), Mitsubishi (2004-05 Lancer, 2006-07 Raider), Nissan (certain models 2001-2006), Pontiac (2003-2005 Vibe), Saab (2005 9-2X), Subaru (certain models 2003-2005). Toyota (certain models 2002-2005).
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