By on July 19, 2017

airbag

Takata, the parts supplier that furnished automakers with millions of extremely dangerous airbag inflators, was forced to issue another recall last week. Considering the hundreds of millions of units already recalled by the company, another 2.7 million is a drop in the bucket. But there’s a slight problem, as these newly recalled inflators are devices that have already been replaced.

In 2015, regulators specified Takata had until the end of 2019 to ensure its replacement airbag inflators were safe. With the “fixed” units now under scrutiny, automakers may be liable for the supplier’s wrongdoing as the millions upon millions of recalled inflators would need to be replaced for a second time. The current recall was prompted after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the drying agent added specifically to combat the moisture that degrades the ammonium nitrate compound wasn’t effective.

“Absent proof that the other desiccated inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall,” the NHTSA said in a statement last week. 

Takata stated it has produced roughly 100 million replacement inflators containing drying agents. The 2.7 million recalled last week used calcium sulfate while the rest used zeolite.

According to Reuters, automakers have been burdened with a significant portion of the estimated $10 billion cost of replacing the faulty inflators. They’d also be liable in the event of NHTSA deciding Takata failed to adequately address the safety issues with the remaining recalled units. At this point, there isn’t much more that can be done with the Japanese supplier. Takata filed for bankruptcy in June and has since been purchased by Michigan-based Key Safety Systems for $1.6 billion.

“The automakers … and Takata — they all know that this is a future issue,” said Scott Upham, chief executive at Valient Market Research, whose clients consist of several auto parts suppliers. “But I think everybody is concerned about the near-term issues, and the financial arrangements of the bankruptcy.”

Obviously, the most pressing short-term danger consists of additional harm to motorists. So far, the faulty inflators have contributed to at least 17 known fatalities and countless injuries.

Takata is the only airbag manufacturer to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant in its systems. It’s unlikely that will ever change, due to the compound’s volatile tendencies. Takata’s inflators can rupture the airbag, spraying vehicle occupants with shrapnel, after the compound is exposed to moisture or high temperatures for prolonged periods. While the drying agents used appear to have stabilized the propellant somewhat, fears remain that it’s simply too volatile to be used in inflators and will require removal if the NHTSA isn’t satisfied.

Honda is likely to be the company most hurt by a second round of recalls, since it used more of Takata’s inflators than any competitor. But it won’t be the only one to suffer. Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Fisker, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen Group have also all been affected by the recall.

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43 Comments on “The Millions of Airbags Takata Replaced Could Still Be Extremely Dangerous...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Simply put, airbags aren’t safe. They may be safer than nothing, but they’re not safe in and of themselves. Let’s cut costs and just go back to relying on seat belts… Let’s get rid of all these heavy, potentially dangerous AND expensive devices that have taken their manufacturer beyond bankruptcy and is destroying an economy.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Look, Takata f-ed up big time. That doesn’t mean KSS, TRW and Autoliv are building inherently unsafe devices, too.

      Airbags are a proven technology that continue to save lives each year. The number of lives saved far outweighs the deaths by faulty explosion.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And yet… you never hear of a KSS, TRW or Autoliv airbag in cars; they’re all Takata, affecting ALL brands and models carrying airbags as far as I know. Please show me a listing of makes and/or models of airbag-equipped cars that do NOT have Takata airbags in them.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “And yet… you never hear of a KSS, TRW or Autoliv airbag in cars”

          Maybe because they’re not blowing apart into shrapnel?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            “And yet… you never hear of a KSS, TRW or Autoliv airbag in cars”

            Maybe because they’re not blowing apart into shrapnel?

            No, that couldn’t be it! EVERYONE knew the name Takata before they started exploding into the news by, you know, exploding.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You’d think they’d be touting that fact, not hiding it.

            “Buy your Brand New 201(x) Oldsmontiac with the Extra Safe Autoliv airbags. Guaranteed to never go POP until you need it and never worry about getting hit in the face by a piece of metal again!”

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          Takata is the only airbag manufacturer using ammonium nitrate in their inflators. High temp and moisture are the main contributing causes of ammonium nitrate inflator instability. Other manufacturers use more stable (but more expensive) propellants that do not have the same issue with heat and moisture.

          When the recall was initially announced, it was only for regions in hot and humid climates. Then, all regions were included but the hot regions were given priority.

          I used to work for an airbag supplier. There are dozens of platforms that use non-Takata airbags.

        • 0 avatar
          b534202

          Car makers just like to mix and match brands … my car has 6 airbags and the Takata recall only changed one of them. Who knows that brands the other 5 are.

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          Let me follow this logic… You haven’t heard about these other airbag suppliers, so they must not exist?

          But since you can’t arsed to Google it yourself, looking at a Takata recall list, Chevy only lists the Avalanche, Tahoe, Silverado 1500, Silverado HD, and Suburban as subject to the recall. Chrysler only lists the Aspen, 300, and Crossfire. Ford the Ranger, GT, Mustang, and Fusion (not the Focus, Fiesta Taurus, or any truck or SUV.)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Dude, at one time or another nearly every single make and model has been hit by these Takata recalls. Even this article points out that this is a recall on the REPLACED airbags from a previous recall, at least in part. By no means is this just limited to a measly few vehicles; I honestly don’t know a single brand or model that hasn’t been hit at least once in the last 10 years and even my old Ranger at 20 years old is susceptible and has been recommended for disabling rather than replacement due to its age.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        Air bags were originally intended to protect people who refused to wear seat belts. Over time they metastasized to the ludicrous situation we have today.

        Back in the pre-airbag days when the emphasis was on convincing people to wear belts, cops used to have a saying: “We’ve never unbelted a corpse.” The only reason that statistics say that “air bags save lives” is that the NHTSA essentially counts every airbag deployment as having saved the occupants of the vehicle. (It’s like the fine print on those TV ads for senior alert devices “saving lives” – they count every activation of the system as having saved a life.)

        Using your logic of “they save more lives than they claimed” we can turn that around and say that governments have slaughtered and brutalized many more people than they have saved and thus should be done away with.

        I’m perfectly happy with the idea of a non-airbag car equipped with appropriate safety belts.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Thumbs up, 2many.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          Then I hope you are perfectly happy with severe injuries if you get in a crash. It has been PROVEN that airbags drastically reduce injuries and death in collisions. Crash testing comparisons of vehicles with and without airbags confirms this. Just watch some videos of crash tests of cars in the third world where airbags aren’t required.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Ubermensch: I’ve been in three crashes in my lifetime, two of which I’m sure would have popped the airbag, especially since one of them totaled the car. Strangely enough, I came out of all of them with nothing worse than minor bruising because I religiously wear my seat belts and insist my passengers wear theirs. To me, the airbags are an unnecessary supplement IF the occupants are otherwise secured and a waste of money if they pop in a minor fender-bender. The curtain bags might be helpful in a side collision to help reduce cuts from flying glass and maybe partially cushion any encroachment into the cabin, but I’m not convinced they’re really all that necessary since any more severe a collision than flattening the door is going to guarantee injuries anyway. And even in a rollover, the bags deflate so quickly that the car is probably still rolling when they go flat, eliminating any protection they might have offered while making eventual escape more difficult, assuming you’re alert enough to even attempt escape.

            As for crash testing, they can’t test for all eventualities and they rarely think of the occupants as anything more than passive bodies flopping around the interior. EVERY test we’re publicly aware of has the testers retrieving the dummies from the outside and has no consideration on how the occupants themselves may need to effect their own escape. What good is saving their lives if they subsequently die because they can’t get out? Some tools are available for cutting seat belts but how many people carry a knife tough enough to cut that air bag material out of the way?

            The idea of safety is Room to Live inside the cabin combined with physical restraint to keep the occupants within that area during the collision. But the occupant still needs the ability to escape if at all possible and no matter how limp, those bags will hinder that escape. And considering how little they really do EXCEPT in severe frontal collisions, the sensitivity of those triggers can be dialed back significantly and not affect their effectiveness when they’re really needed.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            @Vulpine: Lookup survivorship bias.

            Fortunately you don’t have to be convinced on the safety of these systems and the actual scientists that study this stuff are and we are better for it.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Vulpine, that was one of the most nonsensical posts I’ve read around here in some time.

            Side airbags absolutely do more than protect you from flying glass. Check out IIHS side impact tests from cars that were just beginning to implement side airbags, where they tested the same model in trims with and without:

            http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/honda/accord-4-door-sedan/2004

            See the dummy’s head getting smashed by the intruding barrier? See the quantified head, torso, and pelvic acceleration forces? That ain’t because of glass.

            2) Deflated airbag fabric is preventing you from exiting the car? Seriously? The mangled and jammed door isn’t the issue? When have you seen the jaws of life employed against a deflated airbag instead of the A-pillar?

            Your method of reasoning reminds me of the old guy I once heard claiming that seatbelts don’t save lives because he knew a guy who was thrown clear of the wreck, safe and sound, because he refused to put his belt on.

            No wonder John and Ubermensch are exasperated.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            … and I’m exasperated too because their arguments are ridiculous. Telling me to jump off a building with a parachute just exemplifies the error of their reasoning.

            Have you looked at the inside of a car after every airbag has popped? Could YOU get out on your own after the confusion of a side or rollover crash… especially if the car were burning? Stop looking from the outside in and try looking at the same situation from the inside, out. I’m not saying they’re absolutely unnecessary, only that they trigger unnecessarily under low-speed conditions. Believe me, that side-impact thing was not a “low speed condition” relatively speaking. Look at the driver’s seat… broken ribs almost certainly. Those side-curtain bags did nothing to cushion that.

            Use some logic instead of believing everything you’re told. Yes, they have their advantages but they go off under conditions where they’re more of a costly annoyance than truly functional.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            See, you begin with a kernel of a decent point and then jump off the deep end with it.

            “I’m not saying they’re absolutely unnecessary, only that they trigger unnecessarily under low-speed conditions.”

            Valid point worth exploring. The benefit may not be worth the cost in low speed impacts.

            “Look at the driver’s seat… broken ribs almost certainly. Those side-curtain bags did nothing to cushion that…Use some logic instead of believing everything you’re told.”

            Oops, now we’re off the deep end again. THE IMPACT FORCES WERE MEASURED AND PROVIDED. They’re lower for the car with airbags. Because you seem unable to actually read the webpage linked, here is a quote for their likelihood of driver injuries for each car:

            Without Airbags: “Driver — Measures taken from the dummy indicate that serious skull fracture and/or brain injuries, plus rib fractures and/or internal organ injuries would be likely in a crash of this severity. In addition, loading to the shoulder was excessive.”

            With Airbags: “Driver — Measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity.”

            These injury likelihood assessments are based off measured, quantified metrics. Tell me why the numbers are wrong, Vulpine. THAT’S using logic. Staring at a picture of the wrecked test car and stating “look at the driver’s seat… broken ribs almost certainly” is not using logic.

            And this? This is outright retarded: “Could YOU get out on your own after the confusion of a side or rollover crash… especially if the car were burning?” If I can’t get out after a crash like that, it’s the folded frame and jammed metal doors keeping me in. Not a sheet of fabric dangling from the roof rail.

            I gotto go detox. This is too much for me.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Thank you. Bravo. An amazing job.

      People’s Exibit A: AIRBAGS WERE NEVER SUPPOSED TO REPLACE SEATBELTS, but work WITH them to prevent injury in a crash. So “get back to relying on seatbelts” leads me to believe you assume airbags are supposed to replace them. I’m afraid not, good sir.

      People’s Exhibit B: AIRBAGS SAVE THOUSANDS OF TIMES MORE PEOPLE THAN THEY HARM. 17 deaths compared to how many saved lives? THESE airbags do cause harm, BUT the millions of others, who don’t use Timothy McVey’s homemade recipe for KaBoom!, are safe.

      Simply put, and I hope I can forgo capital letters: You are far better off with an airbag than without it, statisticly.

      Think of the billions of airbag-equipped vehicles on the road today. Yes, Takata bombs make up a percentage, but not a majority. There is no reason to call for an end to a life-saving device because one Japanese company got the bright idea to ignore common decency (along with evidence there were problems) and build a dangerous product, selling it as a safe product to unsuspecting automakers. This sheds a little more light on Asian business practices, just like the price fixing scandal by Japanese automotive part suppliers, the Hyundai Theta II engine scandal, the Mitsubishi MPG lying scandal, which goes back freakin’ 20 years! 20 years of absolute purposely given false information! And nobody said anything.

      Back to airbags, this isn’t the 1700s, news tends to spread fast all around the world. If airbags were killing more than saving, I think we would have heard about it by now.

      But you’re right, we should just replace the cars we know today with cars like the Nissan Tsuru. The thousands more that die each year will just have to pay the price, because its much better to offer a cheap new car than to offer a safe new car.

      You save $10k on your new car without modern safety equipment (roughly based on what the Tsuru costs vs. a new Sentra in the US), that’s great! Too bad the family gets killed in a relatively minor wreck that they likely would have survived in a 2012 Altima/Impala/Taurus/whatever that costs the same, assuming they were wearing their seatbelts and aren’t under the absurd assumption that they aren’t required because it says SRS in front of them. You know, short for SUPPLEMEMTAL Restraint System.

      I must say, though, you’re not the only person I know of to argue against a proven safety device. To your credit, his was worse: seatbelts can kill you and you’re better off without them.

      Having recently lost a teenaged cousin (in 2015) in a wreck where she died from being ejected from her Maxima as it rolled, it breaks my heart that people can be so stubborn, right up until it costs them their lives. The passenger compartment of that car remained fairly intact. She likely would be here today had she remained inside the car (belted).

      Her brother in the back seat was wearing his seatbelt and it caused some internal injuries due to the excessive force. Injuries he is now fully recovered from.

      I bet you don’t have to remind him to buckle up. Or his step-sister either, who miraculously survived the wreck as well, having sustaining severe injuries to her neck, requiring steel rods to be put in to replace what was destroyed, and permanently preventing her from turning her head very much at all.

      “I’ll take my chances.”
      Famous last words.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        https://youtu.be/85OysZ_4lp0

        Lets just rely on seat belts. Well, you can, I’ll actually take the Versa (I’m not sure those words have ever been spoken or typed before…).

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Here’s the problem with your argument, John. When it was just airbags in the dash (or steering wheel) they were useful supplemental devices. But now you have curtain bags, seat bags, wheel bags, dash bags and I’ve even heard of console bags (or rather, seat bags BETWEEN the seats.) This is gross overkill! With that many bags you don’t need seat belts any more except to keep you stable in the seat; a lap belt is more than enough and far less restrictive when you have to duck under the tail of that truck you just hit.

        BUT, now we’re getting to the point where the bags may go off at any time, either due to a glitch in the software or outside hacking that could cause a crash, not protect the occupants from a collision. When the do go off, there’s now a measurable chance that the bag will spit out a piece of metal which could kill the occupant even as it’s trying to save their lives. While I agree they’re good supplemental devices, demanding every vehicle be equipped with them, no matter what, is putting lives at risk that may not ever have been at risk previously. I’ve never had a collision where an air bag has gone off, but what if one triggers while I’m driving down the freeway for no obvious reason and kills me? Now, not only am I dead but my vehicle has become an unguided missile and if it’s my truck absolutely nothing will stop it until it hits something else and stalls the engine. How many people would that air bag have killed for absolutely no reason?

        I’m all for safety but there’s safe and there’s SAFE. I don’t want to be THAT safe.
        Can it happen? Absolutely. Will it happen? Not to me, but yes, it has. And that IS the point. There’s such a thing as the law of diminishing returns and pumping THAT many airbags into a car is ridiculous!

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          You are just plain wrong and it’s pointless to argue with someone so averse to facts. This has been studied for decades by people with FAR more expertise than you and NONE of them agree with you. Vehicles are far safer than they have EVER been because of these safety devices. Are you also an anti-vaxer? Many of your arguments are almost identical to theirs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’ve looked at the facts. Even the testers realize that the airbag deployment just softens the impact on the body but has relatively little effect on a properly secured occupant. Personally, if a fool doesn’t want to wear their seat belts, why coddle them with an expensive solution that just puts private ownership farther out of reach? Cars now priced in excess of $30K once cost less than $5k before all these different safety and environmental controls went in. My very first car had seatbelts, a 1964 model. My second and third cars had seat belts and pollution controls and STILL cost less than $5K, brand new. Now, I acknowledge that we’ve seen ordinary inflation that would increase the price but even with ordinary inflation those cars would cost no more than about $15-$18K were it not for all the other stuff they’ve pushed into cars. Most brands’ base models do not carry curtain and seat airbags and still come in under $20K (unless it’s a Premium-branded model) so we can see that even with their supposed benefits, certain airbags aren’t mandatory (yet) and people are surviving just fine… AS LONG AS THEY WEAR THEIR SEAT BELTS.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Again, you are wrong. Why don’t you jump off a building onto concrete without a parachute? After all, the parachute just softens the impact. You are also wrong about the cost of cars. Cars adjusted for inflation are only slightly more expensive than they were in 1974. And guess what, they also last more than twice as long, are MUCH safer and WAAAY more reliable.

            You have a profound lack of understanding of how statistics and actuarial science works.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            VERY poor analogy, not-Superman. Why? Because it ignores what I said about being properly secured. I could try to jump off that building all day and not go an inch if I were secured to its structure by safety belts. Take a look at the guys who work those tall communications towers; do they wear safety belts or parachutes? Why?

            And your argument about inflation is off, too. The cost of everything BUT vehicles has only gone up about 3x, not 6x. Even at its worst, gasoline was only up about 5x from ’74 and is now down to about 2.5x. Even computers, that thing in front of you on which you’re typing, has barely moved from 1980 pricing and for many that movement has been downwards, not upwards. Most definitely the prices of cars has leapt so high because of safety and economy regulations and for almost no other means.

            Yes, I do grant they’re more reliable than they used to be, but then, in ’74 they were significantly more reliable than they were in ’34, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            Jesus you are thick.

            http://wqad.com/2016/04/25/the-average-car-now-costs-25449-how-much-was-a-car-the-year-you-were-born/

            You can just assert things all day, but it doesn’t make you right.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Nice idea, using a non-official media opinion piece to support your argument. Do, please, show me how that argument supports the fact that computer prices have FALLEN over the last 40 years. Show me how that supports the fact that television prices have remained relatively stable over the last 40 years. Even housing prices have only gone up about 3x to 4x over the last 50 years, all things considered (such as region.)

            Show me how that media piece explains why cars are so high compared to ANY other non-transportation product.

            I also note that they never follow any specific model of car and a car I bought for $5K in ’75 would NOT be priced at a mere $21K in ’16. I can guarantee that.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Honda lied, people died…and still are dying.

    • 0 avatar
      cramerica

      That’s absurd. Go find videos of the facial contact patch of a test dummy during an airbag deployment. Without the airbag, your head has a very high chance of smashing into the steering wheel, despite your thorax being belted in. The belt stretches. You stretch. The seat deforms. Your face can easily hit the wheel, dash or even the windshield. Flailing limbs can break bones. Side impacts and rollovers can see your temple meeting the door frame very forcefully. And the idea of the airbag being a replacement for belts is made up bullshit.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I’ve never been really comfortable with a bomb in front of me.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    What baffles me is why Takata didn’t declare bankruptcy much earlier. It’s not like there was any hope they’d have any customers (or money) left when all was said and done.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Some of the initial research for the inflaters was done in south Seattle. They were asked to move after they blew up the building. They were asked to move from Bellevue after they blew up the building there. After they moved to Moses Lake (central Washington) they again blew up the building they were in.

    Then they did a demonstration for GM what happens when that agent had absorbed moisture. You had the front half of the car over here and the back half over there. “Old” GM had full knowledge of that propellant before the first one was ever installed on an assembly line. Saving $1.50 per air bag over the course of one hundred years for all production was too tempting…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Who is “they?”

      a little bit of support for your assertions would be welcome.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      GM, for the number of airbags they use, have stayed out of the fray for the most part. Honda on the other hand knew about a decade ago and made changes without telling anyone.

      Here is a good NY TIMES article about Takata and Honda knowing about about the problem airbags for a long time.

      https://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/12/business/air-bag-flaw-long-known-led-to-recalls.html?_r=0&referer=http://blog.caranddriver.com/honda-taking-heat-for-hiding-deaths-injuries-from-exploding-airbag-recalls/

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    Really frustrating. I already had the airbags in my Mustang replaced, and now I have to take it back in and have them replaced again. The Ford dealership treats me like a mooch because I don’t have maintenance done there, even though I wasn’t the one who created the problem.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Given the long list of major manufacturers affected, I can’t believe I lucked out by purchasing two Hyundai vehicles. They have had their issues and some odd recalls, so I don’t know if I’d buy Hyundai again, but at least the airbags are unlikely to kill me.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Do a Google search on “Bloomberg Takata Moses Lake”

    It mentions the company. Go back into their history.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Do a Google search on “Bloomberg Takata Moses Lake”

    It mentions the company. Go back into their history.


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