By on October 21, 2014

Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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62 Comments on “NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes...”


  • avatar
    Eiriksmal

    Wow, that’s a pretty specific recall. I dodged two bullets there:
    1. My 2002 Maxima was from the rust belt.
    2. I no longer own it.

    I wonder how expensive a vehicle exported to the US then shipped to Guam is.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Probably not cheap!

      It is exempt from the Jones Act for shipping so it wont be super expensive. Not sure the quality of the port facilities which may be an issue.

      But, hey FMVSS applies to all territories as well. Even American Samoa. Imagine the costs to get cars and truck to them!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I think they should have included all the Gulf coast states which are just as humid as Florida

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      I agree, and I find it odd that they would limit the recall to “humid climates.” What defines a “humid climate,” and are they comfortable limiting their liability in that manner? The DC Metro area gets pretty dang muggy during the summer months, too. And what if I moved out of a humid climate into a drier one? Would my airbag just repair itself?

      I think this is a move to limit the amount of money that they have to pay out, and I think it is shady.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        I think it’s merely a strategy to prioritize repairs so that the few replacement parts that are currently available go to vehicles in the areas where the vehicles are most likely to have the issue. I would expect the recall to be expanded nationwide once more replacement parts are available.

      • 0 avatar

        This is a huge quantity of airbags to have to replace. They’re probably only *starting* with humid states because that’s where the risk is greatest for defective operation, but the operation will get expanded to include everyone. In the meantime, just try not to crash into a tree.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        As well, the humidity experienced by the car can vary with ownership, and whether it’s parked outdoors or inside, near water, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed.

      Apparently its OK to fill the cabin with lethal shrapnel in other southern states during July and August.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      From an NY Times article last month regarding Honda’s recall:

      “But Honda said it would recall vehicles in other areas that also have high humidity because it wanted to make sure owners would not be endangered. In addition to the states recommended by Takata, Honda had said it would recall vehicles originally sold or registered in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.”

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    So, the airbag basically becomes a claymore mine? Jesus.

    If I owned an affected vehicle, I think I’d be looking for a replacement regardless of my climate.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Seriously, who designed this, al Quaeda?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      bills79jeep, under the Chrysler minivan-twins topic yesterday I posted

      “…with the Takata air-bag malfunction problem that has permeated the auto industry, who knows what kind of experience they will have now, should that airbag have to deploy for any reason.”

      I did not post that a lady had her carotid severed by shrapnel from the airbag retainer when the airbag deployed. Too gruesome!

      Although Takata is, and always has been, Tokyo headquartered, these airbags are made all over the world, presumably also in Canada where many of the North American airbags used in local production come from.

      Like with the CTS gas pedals, I wonder if we will ever find out which specific factory put out these claymores-in-waiting.

      Ahhhh sooooo, It’s not just GM that’s trying to kill us…..

      • 0 avatar
        Sceptic

        According to NYT the blame is on Mexico:

        Three months later, Takata engineers laid out a theory about what might have gone wrong: Between late 2001 and late 2002, workers at a Takata factory in Monclova, Mexico, had left out moisture-sensitive explosives on the plant floor, making them prone to “overly energetic combustion”

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Cover me while I throw a grenade, LOL!!!

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      Just called BMW today, since I received a letter about this issue several weeks ago and then heard nothing. For the most part they do not have the replacement parts in stock and could not tell me when they would. I was told to contact a few local dealers directly, but have had no luck so far going that route. I understand they’re dealing with a lot of vehicles, and BMW Corp seems eager to correct the issue, but there should be some kind of waiting list or other system in place for dealing with large scale recalls when they come up (and they WILL with ALL manufacturers). It’s unsettling to have to ask potential passengers “Do you feel lucky…?”

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Just don’t let insane Russian pranksters get hold of the defective airbags. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XzgwmMqHtg

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    Worth a read as well, NY Times last month did a detailed investigative article on the issue. Don’t know if the link will post, but if you search NY Times site for “Takata” it’s the article posted on 9/12/2014.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/12/business/air-bag-flaw-long-known-led-to-recalls.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%221%22%3A%22RI%3A5%22}

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    “upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within” – the best description of a failed safety device ever…

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Sounds pretty awesome to me, I don’t see the problem unless you don’t like having shrapnel fly into body parts.

      Who makes the bags for Ford, Chrysler, VW, etc? Aside from GM and BMW it’s just Japanese brands affected so I’m curious as to what the other choices are for manufacturers.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Last week it was 1.67 million Toyota’s recalled and now this. This can happen to all auto makers. Today one is not too much different from the other. Eventhough GM and Toyota does seem to be leading the pack in recalls over the past couple of years.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think we need a little perspective here. If the NYT article is to be believed, this affects 14 million cars over the past 14+ years. There have ONLY been 139 reported cases of injury. How many of those 14 million cars have been in collisions that resulted in the airbags going off? I bet a huge number more than 139.

    There simply are not 14 million airbags laying around waiting to be installed. That is almost the annual sales of cars in this country this year! So it is going to take a long time to get all the affected cars fixed, and if there is a statistical correlation between humidity in the environment and the issue, it only makes sense to fix those cars first.

    At 139 injuries out of 14M cars over 14+ years, I would not be losing any sleep if I owned an affected car.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Really? The fraction of likely cars within a ‘humid climate’ region is significantly smaller plus the lifetime of a vehicle and likelihood of an accident probably puts it closer to about 1 in a 1000 vehicles. Still not a huge chance but it is statistically significant. You can’t presume all 14 million are under the likely conditions, those are most likely the generic sales numbers. Once you introduce the other factors it makes it much more likely if you meet them that you could get killed.

      The pinto’s production run was about 3 million with 27 accounted deaths. Recalls do not require a very large statistical relationship to be meaningful.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        The reliability level or, conversely, probability of failure for structural members in buildings is usually calibrated to be around 1 in 1000 given a 50-year service life. It gets more nuanced because “failure” doesn’t necessarily mean catastrophic failure – although sometimes it can. Furthermore, practical considerations often result in as-built systems with greater reliability. But my point is that some building codes target structural safety at levels around a probability of failure equal to 1 in 1000.

        Bottom line – a probability of failure equal to 1 in 1000 is still really long odds.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        My comment was eaten. :(

        The target probability of failure for structures (with a 50 year service life) is about 1 in 1000. I’m not specifically saying that 1 in 1000 isn’t statistically significant, but it’s realistically a very, very low probability.

        There are numerous other factors that complicate the issue, of course.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, it’s true that your chances of getting shrapnel from one of these airbags are pretty remote; nonetheless, if my car were on the list, I’d be taking it in, despite the fact that I’m far from any of the places named.

      Still, it would have been helpful if TTAC could have provided a bit more information, like: why just the places named when it gets pretty damned humid all along the east coast and the midwest in the summer? Is this a problem that increases with age of vehicle–presumably due to cumulative exposure to humidity, or is the cause dependent not on cumulative exposure, but on reaching a certain high level of humidity, or what? Is it related partly to salt exposure–a possible explanation for the named places being mostly islands? If Florida is named, why not Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        At the heart of the defect is a faulty propellant that is intended to burn quickly and produce gas to inflate the air bag but instead is too strong and can rupture its container, shooting metal parts into the cabin. Takata recently conducted tests on air bags that had been returned, leading to Monday’s warning.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/21/business/it-looked-like-a-stabbing-but-takata-air-bag-was-the-killer.html

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m not saying don’t get it fixed. I’m saying it is not worth freaking out about, and I think they are being smart in allocating scarce resources to the most likely to be affected cars, those in humid environments.

      @Xeranar

      The Pinto was a first class witchhunt in my opinion. There were many other cars with far higher rates of post crash fires. Just like Audi only had an average incidence of pedal mis-application, but got crucified for it by the media.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    What about stuff built in the last century, don’t we matter any more?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I wonder if air bags just stop deploying if they’re 15 yrs old or more, I did crash (front end) in the summer, and no air bags went off

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I guess that depends on your car. On Volvos they have an airbag expiration date in the door sill, but I seriously doubt that by the time they expire the owner of a ratted out hoopty Volvo is going to lay down the amount of cash required for the replacement. Largely because a ratted out hoopty Volvo is probably worth about as much as it’s airbags.
      On a different note, I crashed a 15 year old Miata and the air bag worked so well that it bruised the hell out of my face and arms and hurt like a mother*#&#er! Anyone who says a Miata is a girl car really should try taking an uppercut to the chin by the airbag, they might change their tune.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      Not necessarily, I mean it’s certainly possible that the propellant could expire over time, I just don’t know what that time frame is. Check owner’s manual maybe.

      However, airbags will not necessarily inflate in all frontal collisions. Because there is the very real possibility of injury from the airbag itself, the system is designed to inflate only in severe collisions, where the risk of injury from the airbag is outweighed by the risk of serious injury or death from the collision itself.

      So basically the airbag control computer does some quick math based on the inputs available to it and decides whether or not to fire airbags. If your airbags did not go off, it’s because the computer decided they were not reasonably likely to help you in that particular crash. If you didn’t sustain massive head or chest injuries in the crash, then it seems like it made the right call.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “If your airbags did not go off, it’s because the computer decided they were not reasonably likely to help you in that particular crash.”

        Interesting, so your life really is in the hands of a computer.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          “Interesting, so your life really is in the hands of a computer.”

          I would say that with only a few exceptions, most of us have put our lives “in the hands” of a computer every time we’ve driven or flown somewhere in the last two decades or more.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          It’s much worse than that.

          Your life in the hands of a computer programmer.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m krhodes1….Its all media generated mass hysteria. Air bags were supposed to be the be all, and all. Air Bags are no different than any other mechanical problems, that come with wear, and tear, and age. The recall is at no cost to the customer. Take your 10 year old car in, get it fixed. Or.. take your chances

    In simple terms… $hit happens.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Maybe we should use a waterbag instead. I like that idea. Waterbag.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      mikey, while sh!t does happen, many airbags have deployed in the past without breaking the retainer ring and seriously damaging the human being it was designed to protect.

      I doubt we will find out who was actually responsible for taking shortcuts in quality and/or production. Somewhat akin to GM’s ignition switch debacle — someone changed something and lives were lost because of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        Who was actually responsible? Takata was responsible. Takata is the same company whose 8 million seat belt buckles were recalled 20 years ago (and whose chief at that time initially blamed owners for eating in the car and spilling food into the buckle).
        Learn to say it: “TAKATA.”

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Tosh, of course Takata is ultimately responsible!

          But millions of their seat belts and airbags have been in use, and in accidents, without leading to the death of occupants.

          Like with the GM ignition switch debacle and the CTS gas pedals, the rusting Toyota frames and quarter-shaft welds, someone decided to alter specs.

          That’s the person who needs to go to prison.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m curious to know why so many of these models only used the Takata air-bag for a two or less model years.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure that’s the case. These days, the only thing that would necessitate changing the airbag unit in the middle of a model’s life is a drastic redesign of the steering wheel hub, dashboard, or pillars…which didn’t really happen with these models. And even when the hubs or covers that the airbags are mounted to come in different designs, automakers will still use the same driver and passenger airbags. What I think has happened is that these cars used the same airbags throughout their full model runs, but the defects (which may be down to subpar materials or out-of-spec components) were found in airbags for those specific model years…

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        They were able to trace the lot numbers to those specific cars.

        Also they can do a design change without altering the appearance, and or another supplier was sourced for certain production runs.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You’re both probably right.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    What does humidity have to do with spraying metal shrapnel through the passenger compartment?

  • avatar

    What’s funny is that this looks exactly like the four-spoke steering wheel from the B6 Passat, and Volkswagen was not involved in the recall…although VW may use Takata airbags; I’m not sure.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Are there any other propellants besides sodium azide which can fill the requirements for emergency inflatable restraint systems, and be tolerant of wide swings in temperature, humidity and pressure?

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    Would disabling the driver’s airbag while waiting for a replacement be a viable option? Or is that negated by laws requiring airbags? I assume a dealer wouldn’t do it but if I owned an affected vehicle, I would consider doing so myself as an interim solution.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    How are ALL the Trailblazer models on here, but not the Isuzu Ascender? I think that’s an oversight.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: These aren’t the SUVs you’re looking for.

    Stormtrooper: These aren’t the SUVs we’re looking for.

    Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: RenCen can go about their business.

    Stormtrooper: RenCen can go about it’s business.

    Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: Corey, move along.

    Stormtrooper: Corey, move along… move along.

  • avatar

    Bill Knapp’s was a Midwestern restaurant chain with outlets in Florida as well. they did a thriving business until they hired an outside marketing hotshot who revamped the menu and significantly altered the decor thereby alienating their customer base. they soon after closed for good. I miss the homemade chicken noodle soup and the free chocolate cake on your birthday.

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