Takata Airbag Recall

Takata Airbag recallAbout 17 million vehicles, made by 10 different automakers, have been recalled to replace frontal air bags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both. The air bags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2008. Some of those air bags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants.

The different automakers’ notices to their customers have varied, depending on how many Takata air bags they installed and how long they believe it will take them to acquire replacements if they don’t have enough on hand. To provide guidance to car owners, we spoke with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Takata, and most carmakers.

Nissan’s explanation of the issue was one of the clearest: “The propellant could potentially deteriorate over time due to environmental factors [due to many years in high humidity conditions], which could lead to over-aggressive combustion in the event of an air bag deployment. This could create excessive internal pressure within the inflator and could cause the inflator housing to rupture.”

If the air bag housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the air bag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.

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Latest updates

February 20, 2015: NHTSA fined Takata $14,000 per day for not cooperating fully with the agency’s investigation into the air bag problems.

January 18, 2015: The driver of a 2002 Honda Accord became the fifth person in the United States thought to have been killed by an exploding air bag inflator.

December 18, 2014: Ford issued a statement adding an additional 447,310 vehicles to the recall.

December 9, 2014: Honda issued a statement saying it will comply with NHTSA and expand its recall to a national level. This brings the number of affected Honda/Acura vehicles to 5.4 million.

November 18, 2014: NHTSA called for the recalls to be expanded to a national level.

November 7, 2014: New York Times published a report claiming Takata was aware of dangerous defects with its air bags years before the company filed paperwork with federal regulators.

Four fatalities and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the Takata air bags, and in some cases the incidents were horrific, with metal shards penetrating a driver’s face and neck. As awful as they are, such incidents are very rare, and it doesn’t mean that air bags in general are a danger. The Department of Transportation estimates that between 1987 and 2012, frontal air bags have saved 37,000 lives.
Based on information provided by Takata and acting under a special campaign by NHTSA, the involved automakers are responding to this safety risk by recalling all vehicles that have these specific air bags. While the automakers are prioritizing resources by focusing on high-humidity areas, they shouldn’t stop there. We encourage a national approach to the risks, as vehicles tend to travel across state borders, especially in the secondary market.

What about shutting off air bags until the replacement parts arrive?
Right now only Toyota is recommending this course of action. Each brand is handling the recall in a slightly different manner. Consumer Reports has concerns about the recommendation from a safety standpoint.

Why can’t my dealer just use another supplier’s air bag if the Takata replacement is available?
The recalled air bags were designed specifically for your car, including being sized for the specific packaging, calibrated for the automaker’s performance parameters, and engineered to mate with the car’s sensors and software. There is no handy, off-the-shelf alternative. Besides that, we are told by supply-chain experts that there is very little excess factory capacity and tooling anywhere that could be pressed into service quickly to make these specific parts.

Affected owners in Florida, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico have been prioritized in this recall and will receive parts first. If you live in these regions, make sure to contact your local BMW dealer immediately to schedule an appointment to have your front passenger air bag replaced. The driver’s air bag is not included in the BMW recall. BMW recommends that no one sit in the front passenger seat until that air bag is replaced.

Chrysler is going to replace the air bag in cars based in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is currently working on accumulating a supply of replacement parts, and is contacting customers as they become available.

Chrysler stresses that its vehicles are equipped with inflators that differ from other vehicles. The American automaker is saying that these inflators are not faulty.

Contact your local Ford dealer to schedule an appointment to have the air bag replaced in affected vehicles. Ford states that it has not seen any issues in its vehicles, but under advisement from NHTSA, and with information from Takata, the company is recalling specific vehicles, including the 2004 Ford Ranger and 2005-2007 Mustang.

Following the recall of an additional 447,310 vehicles Ford is now in compliance with NHTSA’s call for a nationwide recall. The total number of Ford vehicles affected by this recall is 538,977.

General Motors
Double check that your vehicle is actually involved. It was first announced that many Buicks, Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles were affected by the recall. It turns out that was an error in reporting by NHTSA. Most of those vehicles were part of an unrelated recall years ago.

Interestingly, the two remaining vehicles were actually produced by other automakers and rebranded under former GM makes: the 2003-2005 Pontiac Vibe (built alongside the Toyota Matrix) and the 2005 Saab 9-2x (a Subaru-built vehicle rebranded as a Saab).

Honda has the most affected vehicles, with more than five million cars being recalled. If you haven’t already, go to Honda’s recall site and enter your VIN. If your vehicle is included in this recall, the site will provide a description of the problem and instructions on how to proceed.

If you have a vehicle that was first sold in, or is registered in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands—take immediate action. If you haven’t already received notice in the mail, print out the results of your VIN search and contact your nearest Honda dealer. They have allocated the replacement parts to these high humidity areas and will replace the part once you’ve made an appointment. Honda will be sending notices to other areas on a rolling basis as the parts become available.

Honda will comply with NHTSA and expand its recall to a national level. This brings the number of affected Honda/Acura vehicles to 5.4 million.

On January 18, the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord became the fifth person in the United States thought to have been killed by an exploding air bag inflator in a minor two-car collision in Spring, Texas. Although that Accord had been recalled to replace its driver-side air-bag inflator in 2011, the recall work was never done, Honda has acknowledged. The driver who was killed had bought the car used less than a year ago and may never have received the recall notice. Consumer Reports urges all car owners to respond right away to safety-defect recalls.

Mazda has focused its recall on vehicles sold or registered in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The automaker will replace the front and/or passenger air bag inflators.

If you see that your car as part of this recall, Mitsubishi advises owners to act immediately in scheduling an appointment to replace it. If the dealer does not have the part yet, they will provide instructions on how best to proceed until the part is available.

Nissan has notified owners of affected vehicles to bring their vehicle in for inspection and potential parts replacement. Extra attention is being paid to “some areas” of Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nissan says they have a sufficient supply of air bags to keep up with demand.

Call your local Subaru dealer and schedule an appointment to have the air bag replaced. There is no wait for parts to arrive and no special emphasis on localized climates or regions. Because second owners may not know where the previous owner of their vehicle lived/drove, Subaru does not want to focus on any particular region.


Immediate action is recommended if your vehicle registered in the coastal areas around the Gulf of Mexico, including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Or if the car is in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

Toyota will replace the front passenger air bag. If the part is not available, the dealership can disable the front passenger air bag until a replacement part is available, and then recommends that the front passenger seat not be occupied.

Toyota also says that if you do not follow the instructions in the owner letter to have the work performed, then you should not drive your vehicle.

If you must use the seat after air bag deactivation, we advise that extra care should be taken to ensure passengers wear a seatbelt.

Owners outside those areas can likewise contact your Toyota dealer to have them disable the front passenger air bag.

When the parts become available, owners will be notified by mail to bring their vehicle in for the proper fix.

Finally, if you are uncomfortable driving your vehicle to the dealership to have the work performed, contact your local Toyota dealer, and they will arrange to have the vehicle picked up.


If you or a loved one has been injured due to the Takata Air Bag please call us immediately at 713-888-8888 or toll free at 888-630-9898