What the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history”, is expected to impact more than 37 million vehicles in the U.S. that were made by part supplier Takata.
According to Consumer Reports, the airbags were installed in cars made by 19 different automakers from the model year 2002 to 2015. Affected vehicles have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side, passenger’s side, or both. The defect can improperly inflate the airbags, deploy them explosively and even send shrapnel into the occupants.
At the heart of the problem is the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers. If the inflator ruptures from a crash or ignites with explosive force, metal shards can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin. In addition, the NHTSA determined that the airbags using ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a chemical drying agent are a huge part of the problem. Environmental moisture, high temperatures, and the age of the defect can improperly inflate the airbag.
To get millions of replacement airbags produced and installed into affected vehicles will take years. NHTSA and automakers are prioritizing resources and delivery of parts to models and areas with high humidity and with the highest concentration of Takata incidents.
States in Zone A include Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.
All recall work must be performed at a franchised dealership and are free. Independent mechanics cannot perform the recall work. Additionally, any unrelated problems discovered during the service is not free.
To date, fifteen fatalities and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the Takata airbag problem in the U.S. Visit www.safecar.gov to check the recall status of your vehicles.