Takata's Killer Airbags Are Still Out There

The Takata airbag recall was the largest in the automotive industry. So large, in fact, that we don’t actually know how many defective units are still floating around out there.

With the recall encompassing over 100 million airbag inflators sold around the world with the potential to kill occupants with shrapnel, keeping tabs was always going to be difficult. But Blomberg is reporting that it’s effectively impossible to account for all of them, noting that there are parts of the planet where the affected customers weren’t ever notified. We still haven’t even managed to fix all the units we knew were shipped in the United States, with at least 14 million potentially deadly inflators still presumed to be on the road as of July.

Read more
Ram Recall Encompasses 212,000 Pickups

Stellantis is recalling 212,373 Ram vehicles over issues relating to the side-mounted airbag inflators. Relevant safety reports were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier in the month and describe circumstances somewhat similar to the nightmare that preceded the Takata airbag recall. Inflator components exposed to moisture may have a tendency to lose components or outright rupture, potentially spraying the interior with metal fragments.

The Ram inflators are believed to have been exposed to unnecessary levels of moisture during the manufacturing process, resulting in a weakening of the materials under pressure. FCA US (which is the name used on the NHTSA report, rather than the global Stellantis) started an investigation in December of 2020 after it had determined some pickups had been installed with side-curtain airbags with defective inflators. The company traced the issue all the way back to the 2015 model year.

Read more
Ford Bagged Again by NHTSA
In a fight with NHTSA regulators, Ford came out on the short end again, as more Takata airbags were at issue. This time, it will cost the automaker $610 million, of which they will have to carry the cost in its entirety.
Read more
Piston Slap: B-bodies Shall Master the Road Once More! (Part II)

Timothy writes:

Sir, I have a problem with my 1994 Buick Roadmaster. You remember the one that I inherited from my parents but didn’t care for the way it rode? Yeah, that one.

I followed a lot of your advice in making it a much more desirable car for me: big sway bars, rebuilt the front suspension with police grade goodies. Same with brakes. Redid the steering box, too! But now there’s a problem: the darn thing keeps blowing its horn!

Usually I’m in a store when it goes off and the call comes over the loudspeaker that my car is screaming at the top of its lungs. And those triple horns are loud!

Please tell me how to get this fixed!

Read more
Piston Slap: A Big Problem With PODS?
David writes:

Sajeev,

Almost every rental car I’ve driven, regardless of make or model, in the last 18 to 24 months, particularly in the Bay Area and especially if the car has 20,000 or more miles, has the passenger detection system for turning the airbag on/off broken. Ford, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, it doesn’t matter. Sedan, SUV, sports car, again it doesn’t matter.

The first time it happened was in a Malibu. I’m driving with an alarm going off and I keep scanning the dashboard for a message or idiot light. Pulled over and checked the doors were all closed and trunk closed. Then I noticed the blinking light for the passenger seat seatbelt not being buckled and that a passenger is detected in the front seat. Nothing was in the seat, not even a piece of paper. After I secured the seatbelt for the invisible passenger the alarm stopped. I had to drive the car that way for the rest of my trip.

This has repeated itself in almost every rental I’ve had since. The most recent frustration was a 2017 Kia Optima I just had, which again required me to drive around with the passenger seatbelt buckled for the invisible passenger.

Does this mean that my personal vehicles will eventually befall the same fate? Is there something that rental car drivers are doing that abuse this system? Does California have a different standard? What gives?

Read more
Piston Slap: Takata's In-Fusion of Customer Involvement?
Mike writes:Hi Sajeev,I have a 2008 Ford Fusion V6 AWD with about 101,000 miles. Like many cars, it is one of the vehicles recalled under the massive Takata airbag recall/fiasco. The first recall letter I got from Ford said the car was subject to the recall and that they were still sourcing parts with no timetable for repair. The second letter advised that no one ride in the front passenger seat until repairs were made, but they still didn’t have a timetable for parts and/or repair.After a few months I got sick of waiting for Ford to contact me, so I contacted them – through chat – and asked what Ford was doing to help/compensate owners of recalled cars. Initially they had nothing to offer. After a few tries Ford agreed to give me a free loaner until my car was fixed. After about a month of back and forth with the dealer, they finally arranged a loaner. I dropped my car off and picked up the loaner – super easy.My concern is that now my car is just sitting at the dealership, they have no estimate when the airbag parts will come in. Should I be concerned that my car is just sitting there?
Read more
Piston Slap: Xterra's External Air Bag Influencers?
Mike writes:

Ok Sajeev, I got one for you.

I own a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd X model. It has nearly 100k miles on the clock. In the past week, whenever I start the vehicle, I hear a chattering noise coming from the passenger side dashboard. The noise persists as long as the passenger air bag light is lit; when that light goes off, the chattering stops. So I took the truck to my local Nissan dealer, whom I trust, and I was told that the problem is the passenger side blender door of the HVAC system – apparently there are gears in this assembly which are not moving freely or properly.

The cost to repair is estimated at about $600 because of the necessity to remove the whole dashboard. The dealer’s service people told me to do nothing until the HVAC system fails to function properly, and it is currently functioning properly except for the above described noise. My question: how is a bad blender door mechanism linked to an airbag light? Can airbags chatter on vehicle startup?

Thank you as always for your excellent advice.

Read more
Takata Problems Force Recall of Ford Ranger (No, Not That One - the Old One)

Ford is recalling the Ranger. No, not the one they’re likely to show on stage at Detroit in about a month’s time. Rather, they’re calling back nearly 400,000 of the old Rangers. You know, the ones they stopped producing way back in the, uh, wow, 2012 model year.

In fact, the recalled units stem from much further back than that, with the company saying it will replace the airbags in 391,394 units of the 2004 through 2006 model-year Ford Ranger. Yes, Virginia, this is another problem related to Takata airbags.

Plus, we just wanted an excuse to run a photo of the old Ford Ranger.

Read more
Piston Slap: Is Your Squib Still a Tower of Power?
Mark writes:Sajeev,I recently acquired a 1990 Porsche 944 cabriolet. It’s in really good shape and has been well taken care of, but I started thinking about the airbags. The 27-year-old airbags.How long are they good for? If they fail will they go off unexpectedly or not at all? Should I replace with new airbags, disconnect or remove completely?
Read more
End of the Line: Takata, Supplier of Millions of Explosive Airbags, Files for Bankruptcy

The impending bankruptcy of Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has been teased at and speculated upon for months. It was never a question of whether the parts supplier would go belly-up after causing the largest automotive recall in history, but how and when.

After furnishing dozens of automakers with airbag inflators what were, in essence, improvised grenades, the multi-million unit recall has left Takata with little recourse. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection in both Japan and the United States, announcing it will sell off the majority of its remaining assets to Key Safety Systems. One of the missing assets will be the equipment relating to the company’s nefarious ammonium nitrate airbag inflators.

The devices, subject to exploding with far too much force and spraying vehicle interiors with metal shrapnel, are responsible for a minimum of 16 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the ruination of the company.

Read more
Takata Axes Its North American Management as Airbag Recall Expands to More BMWs

Takata, the damned Japanese parts supplier with the exceptionally dangerous airbags, has lost the two top executives at its United States headquarters. According to their LinkedIn profiles, former North American President Kevin Kennedy and former Executive Vice President Robert Fisher are no longer with the company.

Meanwhile, BMW Group is recalling roughly 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. after discovering that some could have been outfitted with defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators during repairs.

Read more
Takata to Plead Guilty, Will Issue $1 Billion in Restitution for Deadly Airbags

Automotive parts supplier Takata Corp, along with three of its former employees, were charged by federal prosecutors with concealing the deadly defect of its airbag inflators.

The devices have been subject to an unprecedentedly massive recall and have have been linked to at least 11 fatalities in the United States. Takata has agreed to plead guilty to the charges against it and will pay $1 billion in restitution.

Read more
NHTSA Investigating Another Airbag Death, but This Time It Isn't Takata

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expanded its investigation into airbags manufactured by ARC Automotive following the July 8 death of a Hyundai driver in Canada.

According to Reuters, an airbag inflator in the vehicle ruptured, fatally injuring the driver. The death is similar to those caused by faulty Takata airbags, and the investigation could add millions of vehicles to an already massive airbag recall list.

Read more
Is the Takata Airbag Recall Creating a New Problem (and Just Postponing Danger)?

Automakers are busy recalling tens of millions of vehicles to fix potentially deadly Takata airbags, but the fix won’t solve the problem, a former Takata employee says.

The scandal-plagued airbag manufacturer is using the same ammonium nitrate propellant in its replacement inflators, said Mark Ellie, Takata’s former engineering manager, in a report by WGME. Because of this, he claims the danger isn’t gone — it’s just delayed.

Read more
Is Salvation Near for Fallen Airbag Giant Takata?

The company behind one of the largest safety recalls in automotive history might have a lifeline thrown its way.

Takata, the manufacturer at the heart of the exploding airbag scandal, is being courted by private equity firms, Bloomberg reports, with at least one high-profile company already in close talks.

Read more
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.