Takata Recalls 2.7 Million Air Bags, This Time With Drying Agent

(Bloomberg) —
(Reuters/Toru Hanai/File)

Takata Corp. will recall an additional 2.7 million airbag inflators in the U.S. after they concluded they could explode in a crash despite using a chemical additive to ensure their safety.

The inflators were made from 2005 through 2012 and installed in vehicles manufactured by Nissan, Mazda and Ford, according to a recall notice posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. Takata didn’t identify the vehicle models affected in the notice.

Some 68 million Takata inflators are already set to be recalled through 2019 because they may explode in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. Honda on Monday confirmed the 11th death linked to the defect in one of its cars in the U.S. Takata airbag ruptures are now linked to 18 deaths worldwide.

The recall disclosed Tuesday covers inflators using calcium sulfate as a desiccant. In the recall notice, Takata said it is unaware of any ruptured inflators that use a desiccant in vehicles on the road or in lab testing. The previous recalls focused on inflators without desiccants.

However, after analyzing the inflators involved in the latest recall, Takata said some showed “a pattern of propellant density reduction over time that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture.”

Years of exposure to hot, humid climates can cause the ammonium nitrate propellant used in Takata inflators to become unstable and ignite with too much force when they deploy in a crash. Takata for years has made some of its inflators with a chemical desiccant to the keep the ammonium nitrate propellant dry.

Takata said the defect notice disclosed today only applies to the earliest version of desiccated inflators that use calcium sulfate and that later versions use different formulations.

Under a 2015 consent order with NHTSA, Takata may be required to recall all desiccated inflators unless it is able to prove to the agency that parts are safe by the end of 2019, potentially adding several million more airbags to the recalls.

Mounting liabilities from the recalls pushed Takata to file for bankruptcy in June to facilitate a sale of most of its assets to rival supplier Key Safety Systems Inc.

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