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Some Automakers Still Using Potentially Defective Takata Air Bags

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Despite the massive recall of Takata airbags over the past couple of years, consumers may still find that their new cars contain the potentially dangerous devices.

That’s because some automakers are still installing them in new cars.

Why would this be?

Millions of Takata Air Bags Recalled

According to Consumer Reports, the Takata air bag recall has tripled in size over the past year, and now stands at more than 100 million vehicles worldwide. Over 10 deaths and 100 injuries have been linked to these air bags.

The problem is that the inflator—a metal cartridge loaded with propellants including the controversial chemical ammonium nitrate—can sometimes explode instead of deploying properly. When that happens, small pieces of metal and plastic shrapnel fly into the car, where they can cause knife-like wounds on the occupants. The shrapnel can result in life-threatening bleeding and even death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), through a series of independent tests and investigations, has determined that ammonium nitrate, when used without a chemical drying agent, is vulnerable to high temperatures and humidities. In older inflators, these factors can cause the ammonium nitrate to become unstable and explode in an accident.

The NHTSA fined Takata $70 million in November 2015 for their mishandling of the issue, and required them to meet a number of deadlines for replacing the defective air bag inflators between now and 2019. The NHTSA also required the company to stop using ammonium nitrate in new air bags by the end of 2018.

Some automakers have refused to continue to use the air bags, including Honda, but others are still putting them into new cars.

Who’s Still Using Takata Air Bags?

According to USA Today, Daimler, Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and Mitsubishi are still using Takata air bags in their newer vehicles. More specifically, these automakers are using these air bags in the following vehicles:

Daimler

  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van
  • 2016-2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coup and convertible

Ferrari

  • 2016 Ferrari FF
  • 2016-17 California T
  • 2016-17 488 GTB and 488 Spider
  • 2016-17 F12 and F12tdf
  • 2017 GTC4 Lusso

Fiat Chrysler

  • 2016 Jeep Wrangler (Fiat Chrysler said it was phasing out Takata air bag inflators without drying agents and that the Jeep Wrangler was the last one that would contain them)

Mitsubishi

  • 2016-2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric hatchbacks (Mitsubishi plans to recall and replace these with non-Takata air bags by early 2017)

Toyota

  • 2016 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2016 Lexus GX460 (Toyota will eliminate all Takata inflators by 2017 model year)

Volkswagen

  • 2017 Audi R8
  • 2017 R8 Spyder
  • 2016 Audi TT

Congressman Urge Automakers to Stop Using Takata Air Bags

All of these automakers are allowed to continue using Takata air bag inflators in newer cars, because only older inflation have exploded so far.

A Senate report released in June 2016, however, asked automakers to stop using these devices, not only because they’re potentially dangerous, but because they are likely to require consumers to replace them in the future.

“What’s troubling here is that consumers are buying new cars not realizing they’re going to be recalled,” Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a statement. Kelley Blue Book analyst Michael Harley said in an email statement that the fact that some automakers are still selling cars with these defective inflators “is astonishing.”