By on October 6, 2020

On Saturday, Honda Motor Co. confirmed another death linked to faulty Takata airbag inflation units. While this is the seventeenth known fatality within the United States related to the defect, at least 26 deaths have been tabulated globally with nearly 300 injuries on the books since 2009. But it’s assumed the actual numbers are quite a bit larger since the affected vehicles go back much further than that.

The most recent incident involved a 2002 model year Honda Civic that crashed on August 20th in Mesa, Arizona. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Honda jointly confirmed the airbag inflator as the culprit. Unfavorable conditions had led to the defective part rupturing during an accident after the propellant had broken down, causing the system to spray shrapnel inside the cabin just inches from the driver’s chest.

Considering the size of the Takata recalls (roughly 100 million units split between 19 major automakers), these are relatively rare occurrences. But they’ve impacted Honda at a much greater frequency due to its heavy reliance on the supplier. Of the 17 U.S. deaths, 15 are linked to Honda  with the other two having taken place inside Ford vehicles.

Honda noted that the 2002 Civic’s driver-side inflator had been under recall since December 2011 and the passenger-side airbag unit was recalled in 2014. According to Reuters, the vehicle had not been taken in for repairs for either issue:

Honda sent more than 15 mailed recall notices over eight years to registered owners of the vehicle before the crash and made other attempts to contact owners. The driver killed was not the registered owner and Honda said it was not certain if the driver was aware of the unrepaired recalls.

The most recent previous fatal confirmed U.S. incident was the June 2018 death of a driver after the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic in Buckeye, Arizona.

While taking care of recalls is always important, these are the kind of life-or-death repairs owners definitely shouldn’t ignore. Those living in particularly warm climates where humidity fluctuates throughout the year should take particular care, as these are the conditions that seem to exacerbate the issue most. Though we wouldn’t recommend sitting on anything if you happen to live in an arctic tundra. This is basically the equivalent of having an IED strapped to your steering wheel.

Worried your vehicle might be under recall? Head over to the NHTSA website and input your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if there’s anything that needs fixing.

[Image: 360b/Shutterstock]

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18 Comments on “Honda Confirms Another Death Related to Takata Airbag Defect...”


  • avatar
    conundrum

    In that August 25th post in Related articles, a commenter boasted he’d put off having the airbags changed in his 2003 CRV:

    “A very nice service technician came to my house and replaced the front driver and passenger airbags in my 2003 CRV….. after I ignored warning letters in my mailbox for two or three years pleasung with me to take my car to he dealer for service. If they didn’t see a dealer visit as an opportunity to put your car on a rack and try to sell you a dozen different services I would have taken it in sooner.”

    Yup, and he’s lucky Honda tracked him down. You cain’t fix stupid. Thousands remain out there, unwilling to get free new airbags. Honda apparently has even tried to find owners through state registries, but well you know, why get something for free?

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Yes that was me. I was impressed that Honda was actually sending people to your home to replace airbags, but I think they’re under that much pressure to get it done. The gentleman who care to my house said he did 5-10 a day and had been doing it for months, and he obviously wasn’t the only one. Taking you car in for recall repair is a hassle, though clearly this is potentially life threatening and I shouldn’t have ignored the warnings I received.
      But I wasn’t “boasting” about it.

    • 0 avatar

      I am very suspicious of free gifts. Nothing is free. If someone offers you something for free – run away and never look back.

      • 0 avatar
        tomLU86

        “…. and IED strapped to your steering wheel…”

        Yes, that’s the TAKATA airbag.

        For the rest of us, it’s like driving with a loaded gun shooting a big wad of hot burning gas, facing our chest–or face, in the case of diminutive, elderly drivers.

        What if a sensor malfunctions on a pothole? Highly unlikely, but…

        Remember, cars are generally better now. Very few cars are junked at 10 years. Many, if not MOST, cars built 20 years ago are still on the road.

        GM was skewered over the ignition key, which precipitated accidents, some fatal.

        Yet the number of unwarranted air bag deployments is a well kept secret, which serves the govt and automakers’ interests.

        I would venture to say that, while miniscule, the number of these deployments is greater than ZERO, and a big deal for those who have suffered minor burns or worse. I would not be surprised if there have been more wrongful airbag deployments than Cobalt ignition failure (I drove a Cobalt for 4 years, had 5-7 keys, no issues).

        Automakers should be required, if requested by the owner, to disable and remove airbags on any car over 10 (or 15) years old, at no charge to the owner, OR, pay $5 million for each unwarranted airbag deployment.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          As far as we know, only Takata airbags have this design, and only Takata airbags do this. A blanket policy of disabling all aging airbags regardless of manufacturer would surely kill far more people than it saved.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinB

      I wish GM would track me down like that. I’m still waiting for resolution on my ’08 Sierra.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I think one of the main issues why people ignore taking their vehicles in for such an important recall is they don’t think it will happen to them, the same reason why some stay when a hurricane or fire is approaching their area. Sometimes though I understand the dealer ( Honda ) may not have the material to fix the issue when taken in resulting in a complacent attitude!

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      But he’s right, you know? 17 deaths over 20 years is nothing. It’s less than murdered in Chicago in 1 weekend.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Which is less than the 33.6 veterans who kill themselves, on average, every weekend. 17 deaths and those murdered in Chicago over a weekend are ‘nothing’, I guess.

        Why I would expect anyone to show a little humanity on the alt-right car site, I dunno…

  • avatar
    Cicero

    What I want to know is, is there any way this death can be put down to COVID?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Did Takata make air bags for any American made vehicles ? .

    TIA,

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “GM confirms that it believes the airbags in its full-size SUVs are not a risk. Spokesman Tom Wilkinson said in a statement: “The inflators in these trucks, which have not ruptured in the field or in ballistic testing, will continue to operate safely for decades, even in the highest temperature and humidity regions.”

      GM says in its petition  that its Takata airbags were made to GM specifications, which include stronger metal housings and that none of its airbags have sent dangerous shrapnel flying into passengers.” Abcactionnews

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “…GM said in a statement that it has “no reports of inflator ruptures from the field in GM vehicles that were built with these Takata inflators.” Of the allegation that the company had prior knowledge of defects, GM responded: “This lawsuit is baseless and without merit and misstates a host of material facts. We intend to defend it vigorously.” Detroitnews

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The bigger problem though is that replacement airbags have the same propellant. Basically the owners are buying another 5-6 years best case scenario. I changed my Pilots in 2014 so I am on borrowed time, again.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I was called directly on my 2008 Ford Ranger for a defective air bag inflator. The caller set up an appointment for me next Tuesday. I bought the Ranger last June and knew about the recall but never got around to making an appointment. I am glad they called me.

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