By on April 22, 2021

Takata

American Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that a defective Takata airbag inflator ruptured in the crash of a 2002 Honda Accord on January 9th in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The ruptured inflator led to the driver’s death.

There have been 16 U.S. deaths and more than 200 injuries due to ruptured Takata airbag driver’s inflators. Two other automakers have had three Takata airbag inflator fatalities, for a total of 19 in the U.S.

According to Honda, the vehicle involved had been under a recall since April 2011 for replacement of the Takata driver’s frontal airbag inflator. Honda sent mailers, and made phone calls, emails, and in-person visits, but completed no repairs.  The driver killed in the accident was not the owner. It is unclear if the driver knew of the vehicle recall.

Honda has sufficient replacement inflators now to complete free repairs for any recalled Hondas and Acuras in the United States. They urge all owners of any Honda or Acura affected by the Takata airbag inflator recall to get their vehicles to an authorized dealer immediately. Older vehicles, particularly 2001-2003 model year vehicles, have an increased risk of an airbag inflator rupture, and they pose the greatest safety hazard. Owners can check their vehicles’ recall status at www.recalls.honda.com or www.recalls.acura.com.

From my experience with a Ford Ranger equipped with a Takata airbag, it took six months and two Ford dealerships to get a replacement inflator. I wondered if I was driving a time bomb, and the notion that the inflator could explode at any time was unsettling. The first dealer was unconcerned, but the second dealer, Vancouver Ford in Washington, gave me a loaner vehicle for two weeks until the repair was completed. The service manager told me Ford had authorized him to provide loaners to avoid this from occurring.

If two other automakers have had a total of three deaths, and Honda has had 16, what does that tell you about its — and/or its dealers — efforts to get all of these vehicles repaired without further injury or loss of life?

[Image: Honda]

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42 Comments on “Another Takata Airbag Tragedy...”


  • avatar
    toronado

    This is tragic but I have to say its been recalled for 10 years and they have made many efforts to reach out. Recalls are a way of life and as owners we bear some responsibility to get these things corrected. Many don’t and its a terrible thing when it ends like this. I have a feeling Honda would love to get these fixed or off the road to avoid the liability but they cannot force owners to get them fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Even though the impact of the Takata airbag crisis had largely subsided by 2017, Honda still put aside 520 billion yen ($4.8 billion) in the 12 months through March 2017 for product warranties and over 450 billion in each of the past two years. 

      In the four years before the Takata debacle, warranty provisions ranged from 171 billion to 274 billion yen, before surging to 727 billion in the year ending March 2016.

      According to five Honda insiders, quality blunders have helped squeeze the operating margin at its global automotive business to 2-3 percent — giving it less room for maneuvers just as bigger rivals are building partnerships and overhauling their operations to become stronger.

      That’s in stark contrast to Honda’s motorcycle business which has already brought its r&d division in-house and has a margin of 13.9 percent. 

      In J.D. Power’s study of vehicle dependability in the United States, one of Honda’s two main auto markets along with China, the Japanese brand fell to 18th place this year from 5th in 2015 and 4th in 2002, its highest ranking. Autonews

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Dude, Norman what’s your problem? Are you trying to take down GM too? With the new GM/Honda partnership your hate for Honda is now hate for GM. When the new Buick Prelude and GMC Del Sol come out in 2027 are you still gonna be hating?

  • avatar
    JMII

    Terrible to think the very thing meant to save you becomes your demise.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Honda has been begging people to bring these things in.

    The difference in deaths may be due to the fact that so many old Hondas are still on the road.

    For some reason, too many people view recalls and vaccines through the same conspiracy lens.

    • 0 avatar
      toronado

      spot on.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “I’ll never take my car to the stealership for anything.” –every web forum poster ever

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Except Honda used 40% of Takata products and was one of the largest shareholders.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        garbage Buicks don’t last 20 years and have little value after the first dumb owner

        • 0 avatar
          johnds

          Thornmark, funny you say that because the ones that say my Buick runs forever seem to have a parts car or two sitting on the ranch or trailer park. Even if that 3800 runs a long time, the interior is still in shambles from poor quality or suspension parts that have failed.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Exactly right I think. I still see numerous 6th generation Honda Accords on the road, and in fact daily drive a 2001 (that has been in my family since new and had the airbag inflaters replaced as soon as parts were available). They seem to be holding up long term and are becoming quite the cockroach cars as I see a lot of thrashed ones hanging on. The point is, most of these are on their 3rd or 4th owners, and a lot of those people are maybe getting an oil change at Walmart or Jiffy Lube and buying some cheap tires if they absolutely have to, and that’s IT. They’re not concerned about recalls and certainly don’t want to take the time to deal with a dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      My own reluctance to take my 03 CRV to the dealer for this recall was from a bad dealer experience, and the simple inconvenience. I actually had a visit from two very polite and smartly dressed young people who made an appointment with me to replace the driver and passenger airbags in my car, performed in my own driveway in about 15 minutes. When they come to your house to make the repair – that’s customer service. My next car will be a Honda.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    As the owner of a used Acura, I found Honda very accommodating of the recall service, even providing a free service loaner. Stories I’ve read on discussion boards suggest that not all of Ford owners’ interactions with the maker and its dealers have been equally cooperative.

    I don’t know all the factors behind the statistic you cite, and I suspect you don’t either, but the implied finger-pointing comes off sounding a bit rash. The finger should point first at Takata.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      yes, 100%. I’m no fan of American Honda, but when I had an ILX that needed the recall, they put me in a rental and had me park my car in the garage until the part came in.

      The fact was, they had no idea when the part would be available–and they knew that these Claymore airbags were all on unknown timer switches. Rather than roll the dice and possibly suffer unimaginably bad press and lawsuits, they said “just park the car until we can fix it”.

      I drove a rental for 6 weeks, absolutely no charge. Basically, I got free miles on a car for that period.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “By May 2004, the first reported air bag explosion occurred in the Honda Accord, a 2002 model, in Alabama, according to Honda officials and regulatory filings. Honda declined to provide additional details about the incident, beyond confirming that it had settled a claim with the injured driver…” NYTimes

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I think the manufacturers could make the recall prooess much simpler, with mobile swapout techs doing the work in a parking lot (like a windshield replacement), rather than trying to cajole people into blowing half a day (or more) at the dealer getting upsold by the service writer or worse.

    I pulled the Takata shrapnel grenade out of my car in under 15 minutes and stuck it on a shelf in a closet I never use. I suppose I could try taking it to the dealer and seeing if they’ll exchange it for a new module, but I fully expect they would have some BS excuse for why I “have to bring the car in”.

    • 0 avatar
      ericb91

      RE: “Some BS excuse for why I have to bring the car in”.

      It’s all about liability, my friend. I’m a Honda service advisor. The nitty gritty of these recalls is this- I get paid about $10.00-$15.00 pre-tax for a repair order with an airbag recall, and the technician gets paid about the same. I couldn’t give two craps about you bringing the car in. Certainly, there is an opportunity for additional income from recommended services on these cars, but I don’t really care to do anything but the recall on these 10+ year old cars that come in for recalls because they’re mostly the beat-up cars that have so many problems and “I’ve got a guy for that”.

      /rant. Tl;DR I don’t care enough about the income from additional repairs and maintenance on these old recall cars. Just get it in and politely say “no thank you” if the advisor offers services you don’t want.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “Honda failed to report 1,729 serious accidents resulting in injuries or deaths to U.S. safety regulators….Eight of the 1,729 accidents that Honda failed to report to NHTSA involved Takata airbags. One of those accidents, which the company said took place on May 27, 2009, killed a driver named Ashley Parham in Midwest City, Oklahoma…..Among the seven other accidents not reported by Honda was a Sept. 1, 2013 accident that sent shrapnel into the right eye of Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman, seriously damaging her vision….The mistakes have come to light after NHTSA asked Honda to conduct an internal review of its reporting process.”   money.cnn

    • 0 avatar
      ccto

      Well, the whole point of the exercise is to reduce liability, so they’ve got to put their technician’s initials alongside your VIN; they’re not going to pass out airbag modules over the parts counter. You might put yours in right but you’d be in the 1% on that; the rest would end up resold, installed wrong, blowing up in someone’s hands or just left on the workbench. Now, removing it, honestly, I think is a reasonable thing while you’re waiting. I get that Honda can’t recommend it but I think that’s a reasonable tradeoff that owners/drivers should be able to make. Though if I could get a loaner or rental, I’d grab that for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      ccto

      Well, the whole point of the exercise is to reduce liability, so they’ve got to put their technician’s initials alongside your VIN; they’re not going to pass out airbag modules over the parts counter. You might put yours in right but you’d be in the 1% on that; the rest would end up resold, installed wrong, blowing up in someone’s hands or just left on the workbench. Now, removing it, honestly, I think is a reasonable thing while you’re waiting. I get that Honda can’t recommend it but I think that’s a reasonable tradeoff that owners/drivers should be able to make. Though if I could get a loaner or rental, I’d grab that for sure.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    Honda service advisor here. Yes, an awful tragedy. It’s most likely the driver had no idea about the danger. I’ve been a Honda service advisor for just shy of two years and many people just don’t see the danger. Honda is going as far as to tow cars across state lines since we are the nearest Honda dealer; I’m talking one-way tow of 150 miles in some cases. The onus is on the owner who had been notified.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Agree it’s an awful tragedy. You really hate to see this happen to anybody. This car had the so-called Alpha design inflator, which exploded in something like 50% of the NHTSA’s simulated tests. Sounds like Honda made a lot of effort to try to get the owner to bring it in. So this is on the owner for not heeding that. Some lessons can be pretty hard and ruthless.

  • avatar

    The common wisdom is (in US) that Honda never does recalls because it is a Honda – the perfect car. So if you received recall notice it most likely is a scam. But if it was Ford on other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      I had an 01 civic years ago with the airbag light permanently lit, it was a legit airbag issue but they wouldn’t issue a recall (they already had in the US). I later sold the car to a buddy and he wrote it off not long after. I got calls and letters from Honda Canada for a couple years afterwards begging me to bring it in the replace the airbag (they had later been pressured into doing the recall).

  • avatar
    aja8888

    Last week, Ford sent a representative to my daughter’s house to get her to come in a get the passenger side airbag replaced, which she did. She says she never got any notice by mail or any calls (her car is a 2014 used Mustang). Apparently, they contacted her through her auto registration information on file at the state.

    Man. they are hunting owners down!

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Toyota pestered me to death until I brought in a 2004 Tundra, twice for replacements.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Three years ago I bought a used 2005 Mustang from a Ford dealer.. After a little confusion related to an earlier Mustang I owned and traded , Ford fixed my then 14 year old Mustang no charge …

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Ford continues to pester me about the 2010 Fusion we had that was totaled ~6 years ago. It is to the point that we seem to about 1 letter per month. The most recent one noted that by completing the recall we would be entered into a contest for a free trip.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I am in the process of buying my third Buick Lucerne and upgrading it into a WILDCAT, with the three 1966 emblems. One of the best sedans ever built and riding on the G-platform that, with serious suspension changes, would have been the third generation Oldsmobile Aurora.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      My favorite machine ever used two Buick Wildcat engines (for a time) to get started:

      https://www.thesr71blackbird.com/Aircraft/Engines/starting-the-sr-71-blackbirds-j58-engines-ag330-start-cart

      No mufflers. Watch the torque (do it wrong and throw a rod).

      Speaking of triethylborane… same stuff was used to ignite the F-1 engines on my second favorite machine ever…

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    As tragic as this is, Honda has gone out of their way to notify people about this, so the owner must have been living under a rock or negligent if he (or she) hadn’t had this vehicle serviced yet.

    That being said, the negligence factor is a reality. I work for a multi-franchise automotive organization and we’ve been chasing this one buyer for two years to get him to bring his pickup truck in for a recall repair, offered him all kinds of incentives for him to do so, and he still refuses to come in. And meanwhile, the manufacturer is on our back every month about it.

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