Takata, NHTSA Face Uncertainty Over Safety Of Replacement Airbags

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
takata nhtsa face uncertainty over safety of replacement airbags

Neither Takata nor the NHTSA can say for certain how many of the 34 million vehicles now under recall for defective airbags need theirs replaced.

What is known is 400,000 of the driver-side replacement inflators — out of 4 million produced so far — will need to be replaced again due to a defective propellant wafer, Reuters reports. Another 500,000 units were found to be safe, as those were assembled for Takata by competitors Autoliv and TRW Automotive, both of whom use a different propellant compared to Takata’s ammonium nitrate mix.

However, determining how many of the 34 million vehicles under recall need new units for original and repaired vehicles is easier said than done. Eight of the 10 automakers affected by Takata’s ongoing airbag issues expanded earlier or created new recalls following last month’s announcement by the supplier regarding the number of affected U.S. vehicles, amounting to only 3.3 million recalled since then.

Further confusion comes from how many repaired vehicles will also need to come in again for a new replacement unit, though Honda said those owners who had their airbags replaced since September 12, 2014 would not need to come back. The automaker explained the replacement units assembled by Takata used a different design made by Takata and other suppliers.

Meanwhile, the NHTSA said Takata and the affected automakers would be the ones responsible for demonstrating the replacement parts would be safe over the life of a given vehicle, with finding those needing to return to the repair shop a priority. Administrator Mark Rosekind told legislators this week owners would be best served by checking with their dealership’s service department for news about their vehicles, adding the replacement issue was “confusing.”

[Photo credit: Alexauto123/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0]

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  • Shaker Shaker on Jun 06, 2015

    So, should I pull the airbag fuse in my '13 Malibu? Or, maybe just run the A/C a lot to keep the humidity down? Until they figure out all of the vehicles affected, it's a crap shoot. Modern problems :-(

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 07, 2015

      The deaths and injuries may have been more due to the air bag, than the accident. Your first passive line of defense is the design of the car, and your first active line of defense is buckling up. If the airbag really scares you, disable it and hope you never get into the extreme accident where airbags are most effective. Given the complexity of auto electronics and safety systems, pulling the fuse may cause more problems than you anticipated.

  • Kyree Kyree on Jun 06, 2015

    I'd love to know why they show the four-spoke wheel from a B6 Passat, when Volkswagen didn't even use Takata airbags...

  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
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