Another Gigantic Takata Airbag Recall Could Be Incoming

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
another gigantic takata airbag recall could be incoming

Automakers could be staring down the barrel of another brutally large airbag recall as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluates the long-term safety of inflators manufactured by the now-bankrupt Takata. Earlier this month, the parts supplier announced a recall affecting 1.4 million additional vehicles following the death of a BMW driver. Several new injuries also stemmed from the issue.

At the same time, the U.S. road safety regulator had to make a decision as to whether the roughly 100 million inflators containing a chemical drying agent intended to solve the problem are actually safe.

So far, it’s looking like a no.

Takata was originally busted for selling defective inflators using ammonium nitrate, which became unstable after the passage of time and ran the risk of exploding and spraying occupants with metallic debris. The situation grew worse when moisture was introduced, making affected vehicles in humid locales especially dangerous. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after reaching a $1 billion settlement with the Justice Department over wire fraud charges. It has since been acquired by China’s Joyson Safety Systems.

The NHTSA has until the end of 2019 to make a final decision. If it decides the inflators containing the drying agent are deemed unworthy, we’re looking at another recall of epic proportions. This time automakers will be handed a bill, because Takata is no more.

“The automakers and the suppliers, they all knew this was coming,” Scott Upham of Valient Market Research explained to Bloomberg in an interview. “They are on the hook. Because of Takata’s bankruptcy, they are going to have to cover 100 percent of the costs.”

From Bloomberg:

A group of automakers involved in the [original] recalls commissioned durability tests of the desiccant-equipped airbags and presented their findings to NHTSA in early October. The group, known as the Independent Testing Coalition, found that the drying agent provided significant protection. The group recommended a monitoring program for one inflator design in the riskiest climates while telling NHSTA that it believes the parts present no immediate safety risk.

“After 30 years of predicted aging, none of the studied inflator designs and propellant combinations predicted detrimental effects, except those subjected to the most severe conditions and vehicle temperature,” David Kelly, the ITC’s program director and a former NHTSA acting administrator, said in an October statement.

Meanwhile, the NHTSA said it’s still reviewing information regarding the safety of the desiccated inflators and hopes to have enough data to determine its next step before long.

[Image: 360b/Shutterstock]

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Dec 15, 2019

    Are there any Takata airbags left ? I still get very stern notices for my 2012 VW Golf (gone). I got notices for my 2003 BMW -and they replaced the driver's side, and I'm still on the wait list for the passenger side (car scrapped). So far, the 2017 VW and 2019 Benz don't have any airbag recalls....yet.

    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Dec 15, 2019

      I have one sitting in a closet, mostly because I don’t feel like blowing half a day taking the module to the dealer and trying to get a replacement without going through a full install.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 16, 2019

    High mileage is a poor metric for longevity. A vehicle driven at optimal temperatures on paved roads in the southern USA will live much longer than a pickup driven all year long by a logger who spends most of his time on gravel roads along with -45C winter starts.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.