Automakers Scrambling to Locate 6 Million Vehicles with Takata Defective Airbags

Automakers’ Urgent Efforts to Fix Millions of Takata Defective Airbags That Are Injuring Thousands

Ten years after government regulators announced a massive, nationwide recall of Takata defective airbags, more than six million of these potentially deadly airbags are still on the road. Safety advocates and government regulators liken the millions of defective airbags to a “ticking timebomb” due to their potential to cause fatal injuries.

Takata airbags continue to remain of grave concern to the public’s well-being — let’s review the latest news and efforts in the Takata defective airbag recall and how an attorney at Paul | Knopf | Bigger can help you determine if you’ve been injured as a result of a Takata airbag deployment.

The Largest Recall in U.S. History: Takata Defective Airbags

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a recall of over 67 million airbags made by Takata, a Japanese manufacturer. The defect in these airbags lies in the inflator module, which can explode with excessive force, turning the metal tube into dangerous shrapnel.

These explosions have been linked to at least 27 deaths and over 400 injuries, marking this as the largest and most complex recall in U.S. history. Despite significant progress, with more than 45 million airbag inflators replaced, at least 6.4 million vehicles in the U.S. still contain these hazardous airbags.

The Escalating Risk

According to NHTSA, the risk of these airbags exploding increases over time, particularly as they are exposed to heat and humidity. Older Takata airbag inflators have a 50% chance of rupturing during deployment. “As time passes, they are getting increasingly risky, and that’s why they must get fixed very quickly,” said Alex Ansley, NHTSA’s chief of recall management. “You shouldn’t even be operating one of these vehicles if it still has a recalled Takata airbag.”

Innovative Outreach and Repair Strategies

Automakers are taking drastic measures to locate and fix these defective airbags. Dustin Dupree, a member of the Airbag Recall Safety Team assembled by Stellantis, is part of a nationwide effort to identify vehicles with recalled airbags. “Indy is just littered with them,” Dupree said, pointing to a computer screen showing the locations of thousands of vehicles needing repairs.

Dupree and his team knock on doors, offering immediate airbag repairs, often right in the customer’s driveway. This approach eliminates the inconvenience of scheduling dealership appointments, making it easier for vehicle owners to comply with the recall. “It’s serious enough where I’m here at your door,” said Matt Witherspoon, an Airbag Recall Safety Team regional manager. This hands-on approach is crucial, given that many owners are unaware of the recall or its severity.

Automakers Scrambling to Locate 6 Million Vehicles with Takata Defective Airbags

Challenges in the Recall Process

Reaching owners of older vehicles is a significant challenge. These vehicles often change hands multiple times, making contacting current owners difficult. For example, Johnny Brown, who owns a Chrysler 300 included in an airbag “Do Not Drive” order, was initially skeptical when contacted by the Airbag Recall Safety Team. He was unaware of the danger his vehicle posed until the team replaced the airbag inflator at his workplace.

Michael Brooks, executive director at the Center for Auto Safety, emphasized the urgency of these repairs: “Every one of them could be a threat. The longer these airbags are on the road, the higher the risk of inflator rupture even in a minor crash.”

Technology and Data

Companies like CARFAX provide essential data to help target vehicles with unrepaired airbags. “These are cars that are still in operation, and that’s a big problem,” said CARFAX editor-in-chief Patrick Olsen. Automakers can focus their efforts more effectively by identifying specific areas with high concentrations of unrepaired vehicles.

Collaborative Efforts

The collaboration between automakers, government agencies, and safety organizations is vital. NHTSA continues to provide guidelines and monitor progress, ensuring all stakeholders work towards removing dangerous airbags from the roads. “It’s super dangerous. The companies recognize this, the government recognizes this, and so they’re taking out all the stops,” said Brooks.

Consumer Responsibility

Vehicle owners play a critical role in this recall effort. Regularly checking for recalls and addressing them promptly can significantly reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Tools provided by NHTSA and CARFAX allow owners to check their vehicle’s recall status using the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number.

The Path Forward

The Takata airbag recall requires stringent quality control measures and robust recall mechanisms. Automakers will likely implement more advanced monitoring systems to detect potential defects early. Improved communication channels between manufacturers and vehicle owners will facilitate faster responses to recalls and other safety alerts.

As Alex Ansley of NHTSA remarked, “You shouldn’t even be operating one of these vehicles at this point if it still has a recalled Takata airbag.” This statement underscores the urgency and need for immediate action. Every repaired vehicle is a step closer to ensuring safer roads for everyone.

Takata Defective Airbags

Understanding the Takata Airbag Recall

Takata Corporation, once a major supplier of automotive airbags, became infamous for producing defective airbags, which led to one of the largest and most complex recalls in automotive history. The issue revolves around the airbag inflators, which could explode with excessive force, sending shrapnel into the vehicle’s cabin and causing severe injuries or fatalities.

The Scope of the Recall

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a nationwide recall of over 67 million Takata airbag inflators. This defect, which affects numerous automakers and millions of vehicles, has been described as a “ticking timebomb” due to its potential to cause severe harm as the inflators age and degrade over time.

Why Takata Airbags Are Dangerous

The core issue with Takata airbags lies in the inflator, which uses a low-cost propellant called ammonium nitrate. This chemical can become unstable over time and under conditions of high humidity and temperature fluctuations. When the airbag deploys, the inflator can rupture, sending metal fragments flying at high speeds. This defect has been linked to at least 27 deaths and hundreds of injuries globally.

Critical Events in the Takata Airbag Recall Timeline

  • Early 2000s: Initial reports of airbag inflator issues surface.
  • 2004: The first reported explosion in Alabama is dismissed as an anomaly.
  • 2009: The death of an Oklahoma woman prompts Honda to recall 4,000 vehicles.
  • 2014: NHTSA announces a nationwide recall, marking the largest in U.S. history.
  • 2017: Takata pleads guilty to criminal charges, agreeing to a $1 billion settlement.

Automakers’ Response

Automakers have taken extensive measures to address the recall, including replacing over 45 million airbag inflators. Companies like Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep) and Honda have deployed teams to contact owners directly, even offering to perform repairs at their homes to expedite the process. Despite these efforts, millions of vehicles with defective airbags remain on the roads.

Identifying Affected Vehicles

The NHTSA and CARFAX provide tools to check if your vehicle is part of the recall. By entering your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on their websites, you can determine whether your airbag inflators are subject to recall. This step is crucial for ensuring your safety and that of your passengers.

A list of affected vehicles is also located here.

Legal Implications and Compensation

Victims of Takata airbag defects have legal rights to pursue compensation for injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Law firms specializing in defective product cases, such as Paul | Knopf | Bigger, offer consultations to help affected individuals navigate their legal options and secure the compensation they deserve.

Steps to Take to Determine if Your Vehicle Has a Takata Airbag

  1. Check Recall Status: Use your VIN to see if your car is affected by the recall.
  2. Immediate Action: Schedule a free repair with your dealership if your vehicle is under recall.
  3. Document Everything: Keep records of all communications and repairs.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: If injured, seek medical help and document all treatments.
  5. Consult a Lawyer: For legal guidance, contact a specialized attorney to discuss your case.

The Importance of Prompt Action

The risk associated with defective Takata airbags increases over time. Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity exacerbates the instability of the inflators, making timely repairs crucial. Automakers and safety advocates urge vehicle owners to act swiftly to avoid potential injuries or fatalities.

The Takata airbag recall underscores the importance of vehicle safety and the need for vigilant consumer action. If you own a vehicle with a potentially defective airbag, taking immediate steps to check your recall status and arrange for repairs can protect you and your loved ones from serious harm. For those affected, legal avenues exist to pursue justice and compensation, emphasizing the accountability of negligent corporations in safeguarding public safety.

Paul | Knopf | Bigger - Florida Injury Attorneys

Paul | Knopf | Bigger – Florida Takata Defective Airbag Attorneys

At Paul | Knopf | Bigger, we specialize in handling defective airbag cases. Our experienced team is dedicated to securing justice and compensation for victims. If a defective airbag has injured you or a loved one, contact us for a free legal review and consultation.

The urgency to locate the affected vehicles highlights the danger of defective Takata airbags. With millions of vehicles still on the road with these hazardous components, it is imperative for vehicle owners to act swiftly and seek repairs. Legal avenues are available for those affected by defective airbags, and professional legal assistance can help victims navigate their rights and obtain the compensation they deserve.

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