By on October 23, 2014

Takata Sign

With around 7.8 million vehicles from various automakers under recall thanks to defects in airbags supplied by Takata, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing the proceedings.

The Detroit News reports the committee requested a briefing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “on the status of the Takata recalls and the agency’s investigation,” and plans to meet with automakers “to discuss supplier issues,” as well.

The recall, originally affecting 4.7 million units from six automakers, expanded Tuesday to cover 7.8 million units from 10 manufacturers. Further, the NHTSA included General Motors vehicles made in 2002 and 2003 that weren’t supposed to be on the list — they didn’t have Takata airbags — and the website meant to help consumers determine if their vehicles are affected is having issues, though the agency believes high traffic isn’t the problem.

The recall affects a handful of areas with high humidity, where the defective airbags could explode in a manner conducive to producing metal shrapnel, lacerating and/or killing all inside the cabin of the vehicle. Consumers are urged to bring in their vehicles for repair, and if parts aren’t available, will be asked to keep passengers from sitting up front until the deactivated airbag is replaced.

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23 Comments on “US House Committee Reviewing Takata Airbag Recall...”

  • avatar

    2003 3 series. Got a letter from BMW about a recall advising of recall and that parts weren’t in. Two weeks later a big glossy postcard arrives asking me to call for appointment. I go and they give me loaner rented from Hertz. Car fixed overnight
    Recall done right.
    Notably no one suggested I not use the front passenger seat ….

  • avatar

    2002 3 series. Got the first letter a few weeks ago, but no postcard yet.

    I’m not too worried about this. It sounds like a very serious issue when it does happen, but you’re probably a zillion times more likely to be t-boned by a drunk driver.

    Edit: I’m near Boston. It sounds like they’re dealing with “high humidity” areas first, where the risk seems to be greater.

  • avatar

    Leave it to government to mandate the installation of explosive devices in our vehicles. While i really enjoy being confined in a small place with explosives, i might have enjoyed ordering my own.

  • avatar

    Four dead, getting close to 10 million vehicles recalled, and it is growing clearer that the recall will go much wider. Known defect as far back as 2000. Denials, feet dragging, people maimed and killed by the very equipment that was supposed to protect them.

    Where is the outrage?

    • 0 avatar

      I just can’t get excited about this. Think of how many of the 14M+ cars have crashed over the years, and there have been a few deaths and a few score injuries from this? Yawn. A problem has been found, it is being taken care of.

  • avatar

    Did they post a list of manufacturers and models affected?

  • avatar

    Also an ’03 3-series. Received the initial notice a couple of weeks ago but not the follow up. I’m in CA though, with a notable lack of humidity.

    Interestingly, the NHTSA shows a recall date of July 15, 2014 for this. Hopefully this is a mistake on the NHTSA website, otherwise it took long enough to get the word out.

  • avatar

    In all honesty I ask: At what age is it no longer the manufacturer’s responsibility? I mean it seems as if the NHTSA is of the opinion that if a company’s product still exists then that company is subject to a NHTSA mandated recall. 10yr old airbags, 8-12yr old ignition switches, 11yr old Jeeps.

    Is Ford subject to a Model T recall because of stress cracking of suspension parts? WTF over?

    Are we going to end up with MORE expiration dates and MORE warning labels on all kinds of parts on vehicles stating that this part must be inspected/replaced on X interval not because of engineering reasons (fluids, brake pads, etc) but because of fears of recalls? MB, through 2002, stated that all their airbags had a 15yr lifespan.

    Now if the manufacturers want to issue a recall, then litigate with the supplier for losses, to maintain their reputation then that’s their perogative. Additionally, I believe the media is completely in the right to distribute the info about the affected parts/cars. If the NHTSA wants to set up a (sometimes non-working) web site to help consumers identify whether their car is affected that’s cool too but… at what point is it just too damn old to issue a government forced recall?

    • 0 avatar

      Great post.

    • 0 avatar

      found my own answer: 10yrs

      If I was an OEM or a Supplier I’d start weighing the costs/benefits of adding tons of items to the maintenance schedule as a legal “out”.
      “Oh, your airbag is bad? Sorry, you didn’t have it inspected at XX miles/YY years. Your recall claim is invalid.” etc.

      • 0 avatar

        Because I LOVE replying to myself…
        I don’t know when the 10yr limit (is the NHTSA really abiding by this?) was set but it was likely some time ago. Particularly when cars weren’t being driven to 150, 200, 250+ thousand miles. The original vehicle safety act (per that link) was enacted in 1966. It is not hard to imagine some bureaucrat changing that code (or is it a law requiring congressional action) to 15 or 20 years.

    • 0 avatar

      this is not an issue of something wearing out. It’s a part that’s defective in a way that can kill.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        On top of this, the problem appears to be a design defect with some difficulty in defining why some are defective and need a recall while other parts are not defective. I have a car that has airbags of the problem design that so far isn’t part of the recall model years.

        One way to gather better data would be for auto manufacturers to buy up the defective airbags and detonate them under controlled conditions. Identify air bags that generate explosion and shrapnel and then trace back that part through its service life and conditions of manufacturing. The number of recalled parts would provide a good sample size and controlled detonation would prevent these parts from being reused.

        • 0 avatar

          Or even better, Takata can buy back the airbags and figure it out.

          I’m curious how something like this is resolved between auto manufacturer and component suppliers. Certainly the auto manufacturer is ultimately responsible for the components in the product they sell, but I’m sure there is a lot of legal trouble that end users are fortunately not exposed to. For example:

          -Is there language in the contract with the component supplier to recover losses in the event of a recall like this, or will auto manufacturers have to sue?
          -Conversely, does Takata’s license to use the airbag limit their liability?
          -How large of a company is Takata? Could they survive paying for the recall or multiple lawsuits?
          -How many other companies make airbags? If Takata doesn’t survive this, who fills in?

          tl;dr – Who pays for this mess?

          • 0 avatar

            There is an old and important court case on this question: It comes from 1916 when the wooden wheel on a Buick collapsed on the owner. Buick asserted two things: 1. That it didn’t make the wheel, but bought it from a supplier, and 2. that the owner bought from a dealer, not from Buick. Therefore, the manufacturer was blameless. The courts said otherwise, and since then manufacturers of all products have product liability. It was a seminal case – MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co., 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050 – and has since applied to cars, baby carriages and everything else.

          • 0 avatar

            There are a lot of dillholes who post to TTAC.

            But then, I read a post like this, learn something new, and am reminded of the breadth and depth of B&B knowledge. Thanks!

    • 0 avatar

      To your point – I thought the life span of air bags was 10 years, and then they were supposed to be replaced.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    If you wanted to coerce a confession out of me, or torture me in some way, the easiest thing to do would be to play a loop of audio or video of a Congressional inquiry into some sort of alleged wrongdoing by the business world, especially in the financial or automotive industries.

    A bunch of gasbag mongoloid douchebag retards grandstanding and badgering industry experts and executives for hours on end just makes my skin crawl. It’s like watching live-action YouTube comments. If we could harness the stupidity present in Congressional “inquirers” to create an energy source, we could sent all of Antarctica to the moon or something.

    Words cannot express how much contempt I have for watching Congressperson Jack MeHoff, who was a turd farmer and ran a failed convenince store until he got elected to the 47th distict of East Bumfckville, badger some CEO with a 30 minute monologue ending in false outrage.

  • avatar

    100% of air bags may turn out to be defective.

    The problem is the propellent is hydroscopic–it absorbs water. When it does, the burn rate is greatly accelerated, thus dramatically increasing the power.

    The cartridge is designed to manage a normal burn. Unfortunately, the engineers failed to design it to fail gracefully (safely) in the event of an explosive burn due to hermetic seal failure–regardless of the origin–of the chamber.

    Put in the world’s best seal. Heck, put in three of them if you want and have 100% quality control too. Please, just don’t forget to design the cartridge to discharge explosive pressure without exploding and spraying shrapnel in the occupant’s face during a normal accident inflation.

    Everything in the press so far talks about the seal. I have seen nothing about re-designing the cartridge to handle an explosive ignition of the propellent caused by moisture intrusion. If this is the case, the new air bags still have a safety defect. Those will also need to be replaced.

    • 0 avatar

      The very first article I read on this a couple weeks ago blamed the cartridge wall weakness. I mean, that’s what becomes the shrapnel.

      But since I’m getting all ebola over this: We have ’09 and ’11 CR-Vs.
      So far they’re not on any list I’ve seen, anyone know differently?

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