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Takata Admits Airbags are Defective

by David Zatz on

In a press release issued this morning, the U.S. Transportation  Department said that Takata has finally publicly agreed that there is a defect in its  airbag inflators, and has agreed to a national recall. The inflators were made with a propellant that can degrade, leading to ruptures that have been blamed for six deaths. With this admission, nearly 34 million are to be recalled.

Scott Kunselman

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consent order to Takata, which requires the company to cooperate in all related future regulatory actions.

While most Takata airbags were used by import brands, Chrysler also appears to be affected.  Chrysler’s Scott Kunselman had told a Senate committee that the company had not used the airbags originally found to be dangerous, and were assured by Takata the ones they did use were safe. Mr. Junselman said, “These are known to have deployed successfully more than 9,000 times in Chrysler Group vehicles, with 830 of those deployments occurring in the regions affected by our field action.” Only one incident of injury was claimed, and the car’s owner refused to provide any access to the airbag for further investigation.

Regional recalls (in humid areas) are being expanded to nationwide recalls. The remedy will probably be prioritized based upon risk (age and region being the major factors).

A new government site will provide updates on the status of recalls.

Testing and investigation by Takata, auto manufacturers, and independent researchers have not yet established a definitive root cause of the problems, though there is evidence that moisture infiltrating inflators is a culprit. The moisture alters the propellant, and when it ignites too quickly, the excess pressure can send metal shards into the cabin.

Takata had reportedly been pressured with fines of $14,000 per day.

The Chrysler vehicles in question involve driver’s-side inflators were made between January 1, 2004 and June 30, 2007, and passenger-side inflators made between June 1, 2000 and July 31, 2004.

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