Seven years after the federal government initially ordered a nationwide Takata airbag recall, the active global airbag inflator recall has been expanded to include 67 million airbags from more than 42 million vehicles in the US. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there have been 19 deaths and more than 400 injuries in the US and (at least) 26 deaths worldwide due to airbag inflator issues to date. New Issues that have arisen The original recall involves airbags that pose a potential risk of exploding due to long-term exposure to high heat and humidity. Certain car manufacturers had argued that their vehicle design (particularly in trucks and SUVs) offered a lower risk of rupture. The NHTSA finally ruled in the fall of 2020 and winter of 2021 that this is not the case, that these airbags still pose too high a risk, and these vehicles must also be recalled. A slightly different segment of defective Takata airbag recalls was initiated during this same timeframe, also by the NHTSA. These new recalls were for Takata airbags built with non-azide driver inflators (NADI). This new airbag recall has the problem of faulty seals on the airbag inflators. This defect lets moisture penetrate the propellant causing the airbag inflator to malfunction. As a result, the airbags either get deployed slowly (and underinflate) or aggressively, causing an airbag explosion during a collision. The vehicles containing NADI inflators were from automakers – Toyota, BMW, Audi, Honda, Isuzu Oasis, and Mitsubishi.
The Original Takata Airbag Recall
Responses of Automakers Towards the Airbag Recall
BMWBMW has already recalled 108,581 vehicles previously and has now issued “Do Not Drive” recalls on 7,910 vehicles in the US. They have decided a subset of their already-recalled vehicles are considered high-risk, and they recommend owners not drive the vehicle until it’s repaired.
InfinitiIt’s the third time Infiniti has recalled their FX35 and FX45 SUVs for airbag problems that have already had their passenger-side airbags replaced in an earlier recall. Due to parts shortages, these vehicles received temporary replacement airbag inflators earlier and got permanent ones in a January 2020 recall. Now, those replacement inflators have also turned out to be faulty. Therefore, beginning April 18, 2021, Infiniti dealerships intend to replace them free of charge.
FordIn response to the earlier Takata airbag recall, Ford petitioned NHTSA about the driver-side airbags containing a moisture-absorbing desiccant, arguing the safety recall as not warranted. Butthe NHTSA denied their petition (in January 2021) to exempt several Ford and Mazda models from the recall process.
The List of Ford and Mazda Models Effected2006-2012 Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr, and MKZ sedans 2007-2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX SUVs 2006-2011 Mercury Milan sedan 2007-2011 Ford Ranger pickup truck 2007-2009 Mazda B-Series pickup truck Ford is now proceeding to recall all these vehicles. In a separate announcement, they have also recalled approximately 5,844 Mazda B-Series trucks. Their dealership will replace the driver-side airbag inflator or airbag module, as per the need, notifying owners from April 2021 onwards.
GMGM had recalled 800,000 airbags during the initial recall. But later, they argued with the safety regulator that design differences in their larger vehicles (trucks and SUVs) created better airflow, which decreased the chances that the airbag inflator would fail from prolonged contact with extreme heat and humidity. NHTSA finally rejected GM’s argument, stating their larger vehicle airbag inflators carried the same type of explosion risk as smaller vehicles. In November 2020 they ordered GM to recall its 5.9 million vehicles registered in the United States. Currently, GM has agreed to comply with the orders by recalling the domestic vehicles and another 1.1 million of the same models worldwide. This recent recall would cost the automaker about $1.2 billion. The new airbag inflator recall covers GM Trucks and SUVs with model years 2007 to 2014 –
- Cadillac Escalade
- Chevrolet Avalanche
- GMC Sierra and Yukon