After at least 16 deaths, even more injuries and the steady launches of global recalls, defective Takata airbags continue to menace innocent drivers and passengers. In fact, Takata airbags even are in newer models of some vehicles.
According to Consumer Reports magazine, regulators said earlier this year that about 85 million potentially defective Takata airbag inflators still need to be recalled unless Takata can prove they are safe. At that time the recall included 28.8 million airbags from 14 automakers in the United States alone.
Yet defective Takata airbag recalls keep on growing. On Oct. 26, 2016, Toyota recalled another 5.8 million cars due to defective Takata airbags in Corolla and Yaris subcompact models, mostly in Europe and Asia. This is clearly the biggest auto recall in history.
The problem with such vehicles is that a Takata airbag inflator can be deadly. Auto regulators in the U.S. believe that ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical in the inflators, can cause the airbags to explode with excessive force. That can send shards of metal from the airbag casing throughout the vehicle, and this shrapnel can harm or even kill occupants.
Researchers have found that the chemical mix of ammonium nitrate, which is used to inflate airbags suddenly, can grow unstable over time, particularly when moisture seeps in, which happens more often in areas with high humidity and heat. To offset this problem, Takata has added a desiccant, or moisture absorber.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consent order requiring Takata to cease making inflators with any amount of ammonium nitrate by the end of 2018. The NHTSA also gave Takata until the end of 2019 to prove that its new desiccated inflators being installed in new cars are safe. Otherwise, airbags with desiccated inflators also will need to be recalled.
In other words, no more ammonium nitrate inflator airbags will be made after 2018, and desiccate inflators have until the end of 2019 to prove their worthiness. Meanwhile, millions of drivers and passengers could be at risk until the problem is sorted out.
Honda, Toyota, Ford and Mazda say they no longer will use Takata airbags with ammonium nitrate in future models. But millions of vehicles remain on our roads whose airbags could kill occupants when they deploy with overly explosive force, even in a minor collision.
Further, Honda — which has recalled 10.2 million vehicles in the U.S. for defective Takata inflators — says 17,000 new vehicles have inflators without desiccant drying agents, but says no more new vehicles will be equipped this way.
The U.S. government has instructed Takata to stop making inflators with ammonium nitrate as a propellant by the end of the year 2018. It remains to be seen if Takata’s newer desiccated inflators will need to be recalled, but some auto manufacturers are using those inflators in new cars.
As for which newer models with potentially defective Takata airbags are sold in the U.S., the following Ferrari vehicles employ defective Takata inflators and will need replacing by 2018, though they have not yet been recalled:
Injuries and deaths caused by bad airbags from Japan’s Takata are leading to many defective airbag lawsuits, also known as product liability lawsuits. Takata as well as individual automakers which bought the airbags from Takata also have been the target of class-action lawsuits from groups of vehicle owners.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by an exploding Takata airbag, notify an injury lawyer with Jim Adler & Associates. You may be legally entitled to payments for your injury losses.