Millions of Americans have already learned that their vehicles are equipped with faulty air bag inflators and need to be replaced, but recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced the problem was much larger and more widespread than was previously known.
The inflators are associated with Takata air bags and more than 28.8 million vehicles have been recalled previously due to this condition. Experts were able to determine that the inflators could degrade over time due in part to fluctuating high temperatures and exposure to moisture, which in turn leads to a breakdown of an ammonium nitrate propellant. Without this propellant in proper working condition, the inflator fails and the air bag will not deploy in the event of a collision. Not only does the air bag fail to deploy but in some instances, the inflator degrades to the point that it becomes shrapnel which can be expelled through the car, potentially injuring the occupants of any vehicle.
Based on the determination of why these ignitors are failing, the NHTSA has expanded its recall to include another 35-40 million vehicles. Before this expansion, the recall was the largest of its kind in U.S. history; now, its size is unparalleled.
Necessary repairs for the newly announced recall expansion will take place between May of 2016 and December of 2019 where vehicles will be fixed in an order based upon the most risk. Those with older, higher risk inflators will be fixed before those that are believed to pose a lesser threat of failure. The full list of newly affected vehicles is not yet available but earlier recalls included Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks North America (Sterling Bullet), Daimler Vans USA LLC (Sprinter), Dodge/Ram, Ford, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen (VW), illustrating how wide spread this problem is.
Motorists with affected vehicles will be notified in writing of the recall and will be provided information about obtaining the fix necessary to resolve this problem. The costs will be done without cost to consumers and all affected manufacturers, as well as the NHTSA, have stated that a 100 percent fix rate is their goal, meaning that efforts will be made to address each and every afflicted vehicle.
If you have questions in the interim, you are encouraged to contact your authorized dealer. Your dealer can help you understand whether your specific car, truck, or SUV has been recalled and if so, what steps you should take to make sure your vehicle is fixed appropriately.
No vehicle should be on the roads of Phoenix if it is unsafe to be driven. Those who drive the affected car, those who are a passenger in the vehicle, and in some cases, even others in nearby cars may be at risk due to a mechanical failure or faulty component of a vehicle. If a recalled vehicle was involved in a car accident that left you injured, make sure you understand your legal options and whether you are entitled to relief for your damages.
Prior Blog Entry:
Dangerous Drivers in Arizona Don’t Know They are Risky, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 6, 2016.
U.S. Department of Transportation expands and accelerates Takata air bag inflator recall to protect American drivers and passengers, by Bryan Thomas, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published May 4, 2016.
Recall Spotlight: Takata Air Bags Recalls, NHTSA, accessed on May 10, 2016.