Defective Airbags – Takata Corporation Recalls 53 Million Vehicles

takata airbagTakata Corporation, a Japanese airbag manufacturer, has recently doubled the recall of almost 34 million cars due to potentially life-threatening injuries caused by their airbags.  This is the biggest auto recall in the history of the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation the Takata recall involves the driver’s and passenger airbag inflators for 11 different automakers.  The most recent announcement expands the airbag recall from the over 16 million cars that have already gone in for repairs for the same problem.  It also raises the number of cars that have been affected around the world since 2008 to over 53 million. It has been reported that six deaths are linked to the Takata defective airbags.  In these reports, the airbags exploded very violently and propelled shrapnel through the interior of the vehicles.

Shigehisa Takada, the CEO of Takata Corporation, released a statement saying he was pleased to have come to a solution with the NHTSA.  The company did not want to say if any markets outside of the U.S. would be affected in any way.

Takata agreed to expand the recall only due to the pressure from United States authorities.  Previous recalls were resisted because they said the defect was not “officially recognized.”  The NHTSA’s administrator has been very aggressive with automobile safety issues. Back in February, the NHTSA hit Takata with a $14,000-per-day fine for not fully cooperating with a legal probe.  This has since been suspended.  The Takata recall will cost them and auto manufacturers nearly $5 million.

Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have all broadened their Takata recalls over the last week.  Some auto manufacturers have made the decision to proceed with their recalls after it was found that the Takata airbag inflators were not properly sealed.  This allows moisture to get into the propellant casing.  The moisture causes damage to the propellant and can cause an inflator to explode with excessive force.

The six deaths related to the airbag deaths were all related to Honda vehicles.  As Takata’s biggest customer, Honda has unfortunately taken the largest share of the recalls to this point.

Takata said it would take two months to review the data and determine how the U.S. action will affect the worldwide recalls.  The total number of cars involved is not yet clear due to the fact that cars with two airbags could be counted twice under the recall.  The NHTSA was also being careful about the numbers as they are still subject to change.  Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, issued an order of consent to Takata, which requires them to cooperate in the agency’s inquiry.  The NHTSA also stated that it will “organize and prioritize the replacement of defective Takata inflators” under their legal authority.  This is the first time since 2000 that this power has been used.  Foxx said they will not stop until every single airbag has been replaced.

It has taken much longer than it should have for Takata to take responsibility for the defective airbags that have affected so many vehicles.  Takata is facing several class actions in Canada and the United States, and well as a regulatory probe and a criminal investigation by the United States.

If you own one of the cars affected by this recall and you have been injured, or if a loved one has been killed by one of these exploding airbags, you need to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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