25 Oct Takata Airbag Recall May Soon Expand to Side Airbags, Pending Outcome of Ongoing NHTSA Investigation
Last November, regulators at the NHTSA issued a nationwide recall for driver- and passenger-side Takata airbags that contain certain types of defective inflators. That recall reportedly has affected about 19 million vehicles in the U.S.
Nearly one year later, regulators may now be on the verge of expanding this recall to side airbags, as federal authorities are currently looking into whether the defects associated with the recalled inflators also may be impacting newer inflators.
Brief Background on Takata Airbag Defects & Recall
The defective inflators that are the center of one of the biggest and most complicated vehicle-related recalls in U.S. history can
- Rupture under certain conditions, with humidity being one of the main catalysts known at this point
- Shoot small metal pieces out of airbags, propelling them towards the occupants of vehicles.
Elaborating on what the NHTSA means when it states that these airbags are “rupturing,” NHTSA’s Steven Ridella, director of the office for crashworthiness research, clarified that:
The catastrophic failure inside the inflator shatters the tubing of the inflator and sends metal fragments and shrapnel all over the test chamber. This is what we’re talking about when we say ‘rupture.’
So far, there have been eight reports of these defective inflators causing fatal injuries. A number of others have suffered non-fatal injuries following inflator ruptures and airbag malfunctions.
Commenting on one of the more elusive problems still associated with this recall, NHTSA’s Frank Borris, director of the Office of Defects Investigation, explained that:
For several years, we believed that manufacturing errors caused the ruptures…We no longer believe that to be true. Today, the exact cause of the ruptures is unknown, though it seems to be related to environmental conditions that affect inflators as they age.
Takata’s Response to Possible Recall Expansion
As federal investigators continue their investigation into the possibility that side airbags contain defective inflators, Takata has issued a statement regarding the recall and the ongoing inquiries, explaining through spokesman Jared Levy that:
While we are still investigating the cause of this malfunction, we believe it is unrelated to the previous recalls, which the extensive data suggests were a result of aging and long-term exposure to heat and high humidity… we are cooperating closely with NHTSA and the vehicle manufacturers.
As more news about this inquiry and recall become available, we’ll report the latest updates to you here in a future blog. Until then, share your comments with us on Facebook & Google+.
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