By on December 5, 2019

The largest automotive recall in history just got a little more inclusive. Takata is recalling another 1.4 million vehicles after the airbag-related death of a BMW driver. The German manufacturer has issued three recalls covering roughly 116,000 U.S. vehicles containing the faulty equipment, saying it is aware of at least one fatality in Australia, plus a few injuries.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the issue. Takata supplied tens of millions of defective air-bag inflators over several years. The units are prone to exploding in the event of a crash, spraying metal shrapnel inside the cabin, after its propellant becomes compromised by nothing more than moisture. This has led to many senseless deaths, the largest automotive recall in history, and Takata declaring bankruptcy two years ago before its purchase by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. 

The supplier issued a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in November notifying it of the recall. Bloomberg reports that the new inflator issue stems from a manufacturing defect affects inflators containing a non-azide propellant — not the ammonium nitrate mixture that turned previous Takata units into unintentional grenades.

In fact, NHTSA documents clearly specify that “these inflators do not contain phase stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) propellant.” However, the end result is basically the same.

Takata claims “moist propellant subsequently dried could burn aggressively, increasing internal pressure” and, in a worst-case scenario, can cause the inflator to rupture. Unfortunately, the parts are old (manufactured between 1995 and 1999) and will be difficult to locate. Some of the vehicles impacted are definitely in an automotive graveyard by now. Others might be on their second or third owner.

From Bloomberg:

The parts maker said it produced and sold 4.45 million of the inflators globally during the time period covered by the recall. According to Takata’s safety recall report to the NHTSA, the number of inflators it produced for vehicles sold in the U.S. was “substantially smaller but is not precisely known at this time.” Because of the age of the potentially affected vehicles, only a portion remain in service, the company said.

While BMW is the only manufacturer to have issued recalls in the U.S. at this time, the issue also affects vehicles from Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. They’re all trying to figure out which models are affected and where they can be found before issuing recalls of their own. NHTSA documents suggests customers will begin receiving notifications early in 2020.

[Image: 360b/Shutterstock]

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