Shortly after Takata announced they had filed for bankruptcy in June 2017, they added yet another type of air bag inflator to their already huge product recall. According to ABC News, 2.7 million vehicles now joined the list of the already 42 million that need air bag inflator replacements.
Meanwhile, as of June 2017, about 26 million vehicles remained unrepaired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Honda Confirms Another Takata Air Bag Rupture Fatality
The new recall applies to Ford, Mazda, and Nissan vehicles. Tests on the air bags showed that the chemical drying agent used to keep the inflator fuel stable could actually increase the risk that a driver side air bag would rupture.
Following the recall, Mazda announced that about 19,000 of their B-series pickup trucks are affected, but only about 6,000 in the U.S. Nissan stated that the new recall affects about 627,000 Versa hatchback and sedans, of which about 515,000 were sold in the U.S. Ford stated that the issue covers about 2.2 million Ford vehicles.
None of the automakers are aware of any ruptures or injuries associated with this latest recall. On July 10, 2017, however, Honda confirmed that a driver’s side airbag in a 2001 Honda Accord had ruptured on June 18, 2016.
The driver was not in the car at the time, but an individual attempting to make repairs on the vehicle was killed. This individual used a hammer while working on the vehicle. The ignition switch was in the “on” position. The hammering apparently triggered the air bag, which ruptured when it deployed, fatally injuring the individual.
Honda stated that they consider this to be the 11th confirmed fatality in Honda vehicles related to Takata air bag explosions. The vehicle had been included in multiple recalls, but the repair had not been completed.
Even Air Bags with a Drying Agent May Not Be Safe
Takata air bags are already linked to 17 deaths and over 180 injuries worldwide. Prior recalls have involved air bag inflators without a drying agent, however, as it was believed that the drying agent would help stabilize the fuel used in the inflators.
That fuel is called “ammonium nitrate,” a chemical that has been found to become unstable with age, high temperatures, and high humidities. The drying agents are meant to absorb any excess moisture to help preserve the integrity of the inflator fuel. New test results and this latest recall, however, make it clear that even with a drying agent, these air bags can still rupture.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said in a statement, “Takata has told the public that their line of air bag inflators with moisture absorbent was safe. This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based air bags.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given Takata until 2019 to prove that inflators with drying agents are safe—or they will all have to be recalled.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.