Recall of Dangerous Takata Air Bags Affects 1 in 8 Vehicles, Report Says

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Recalls of cars with potentially deadly Takata air bags affect about 1 in 8 vehicles nationwide, but a lot of people don’t know whether they are personally at risk, according to a report by Kelley Blue Book.

So far, the recall includes more than 32 million vehicles in the U.S. from about three dozen brands, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Mitsubishi and Ford, the report said.

“Consumer opinions on the Takata airbag recall seem to be another unfortunate case of people thinking ‘it won’t happen to me,’ but this is easily the largest, most expensive automotive safety issue in U.S. history. In fact, 1 in 8 vehicles on the road are affected by this massive recall, yet 33 percent of those surveyed don’t know if they are impacted,” Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement.

The survey of 1,000 people was conducted from June 3 to 6.

Fourteen deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the defective airbags so far. Ten of the deaths were in the United States; the other four in Malaysia.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the air bags in a crash. However, when vehicles with these air bags spend years in hot areas with high humidity — including the Gulf Coast and parts of California, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — the chemical can deteriorate and explode with too much force, flinging shrapnel into the driver and passengers.

In 2015, NHTSA imposed a civil penalty for Takata’s violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and for the first time used its authority to accelerate recall repairs to millions of affected vehicles. Takata agreed to replace the inflators in five phases, beginning in May 2016 through December 2019; vehicles are to be prioritized based on age and risk factor.

Some automakers are still making and selling new vehicles that include the faulty inflators.

NHSTA recommends car owners check for recall information on safercar.gov and, if their vehicle is part of the recall, contact a local dealer for a free repair.