The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently begun an investigation into four car makers – Mitsubishi, Audi, Honda and Toyota – concerning 1.4 million faulty and potentially-fatal Takata airbag inflators. Official documents state that Takata haven’t provided specific details on the faulty makes, models or model years of the cars possessing these defective inflators, so the highway safety agency is instructing all four car companies to investigate and issue recalls as soon as possible.
Potentially fatal consequences
When exposed to high heat and humidity for long periods of time, Takata’s inflators explode when deployed and shoot shrapnel at passengers and drivers. A male Australian BMW driver was recently killed by the malfunction of a Takata inflator. This tragic incident prompted the ACCC to tell over 12,000 owners of BMW E46 3 Series models built between 1997 and 2000 to stop driving immediately. BMW are conducting inspections and repairs – either after towing the cars to repair facilities or by deploying technicians to the vehicle location.
Time for action
The NHTSA have notified the car makers that they have five business days to alert the agency of any safety issues after discovering them. “If your company has not yet gathered enough evidence to make a determination that the subject air bag inflators present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety, reply with a detailed work plan including the benchmark dates required to make the determination,” the agency instructed in a recent letter. Toyota, Mitsubishi and Audi are currently investigating. Honda say they’ll reach a final verdict soon. According to the NHTSA, the car makers must respond by January 17th.
Car safety: advice for consumers
The NHTSA are advising vehicle owners check for recalls using their VIN (vehicle identification number). If your car has a defective airbag, contact your local dealer for a free repair. There are also plenty of other ways consumers can ensure car safety. Before purchasing a car, research the vehicle’s structural design, size and weight. Large, heavy cars are safer than smaller ones. Additionally, check the car’s safety rating and crashworthiness – the specific design of the car which reduces the risk of serious injury or death in the instance of a crash.
As for Takata’s defective airbags, consumers can also sign up for recall alerts to be notified of this or any other future recall. The good news is repairs only take one or two hours. Some dealerships also offer a shuttle service, which offers vehicle owners rides home and back to the shop once their car’s ready for collection.