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More Takata Air Bag Recalls in U.S., Japan, and Europe

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The Takata air bag recalls are not over yet.

According to Reuters, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are all recalling more vehicles for air bag repairs. Toyota and Nissan will pull an additional 6.5 million vehicles from the market for investigation, while Honda plans to add more to their recalls, as well, though not in the U.S.

With this recent announcement, the number of vehicles affected by defective Takata air bag recalls has risen to nearly 31 million worldwide.

Companies Pull Back More Air Bag Inflators for Investigation and Safety

Recalls implemented because of faulty Takata air bags now hold the record of affecting the most vehicles for a single problem since Ford’s parking gear recalls in the 1980s. Though GM recalled about 30 million vehicles in 2014, the recalls involved a number of issues, including but not limited to the ignition switch defect.

Toyota stated this latest recall would involve 35 models of vehicles mostly in Japan and Europe, including the Corolla and Vitz, most built between 2003 and 2007. About 630,000 vehicles in the U.S. will also be included. Nissan is also recalling vehicles in Japan, including nine of their models, most produced between 2004 and 2008.

The companies commented on the ongoing investigation into the problem with the air bags. At least six people have died when instead of deploying as expected, the air bags exploded, sending shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle. Pieces of metal became lodged in the victim’s bodies, causing dangerous bleeding, facial injuries, vision and hearing loss, and sometimes death.

Takata claimed last fall that their interior company tests indicated time, heat, and humidity were all factors in causing the air bag inflators to malfunction. Toyota stated in this recent recall announcement that they had come to a similar conclusion, and that certain types of airbag inflators could become vulnerable to moisture intrusion over time. Moisture inside the inflator affects the chemicals there, and can result in an explosion.

Is Ammonium Nitrate to Blame?

There are questions as to the material Takata uses to drive inflation of their air bags. A former employee of the company turned whistleblower claimed Takata switched to ammonium nitrate in 2001. The problem is that ammonium nitrate is sensitive to extreme changes in temperature.

According to CNN, in Takata’s own patent document, dated October 2006, the company mentions the needs to conduct additional tests on ammonium nitrate under various temperatures because of its reputation as being unstable. Yet the company moved forward with the chemical, stating it was more efficient, and burned cleaner.

In 2004, the first injury linked to a defective Takata air bag was reported. Since then, five more deaths have been linked to air bag explosions, and over 100 injuries.