Takata is having a hard time keeping up with demand for air bag replacement parts.
Though the company has refused to expand previous recalls that focus only on hot and humid parts of the country, car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota have broadened their recalls to include other states. That means millions of vehicles require new air bag inflators—those parts deemed defective by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).
Saying you’re going to replace the parts is one thing. Actually doing it is proving to be another, as both Takata and car makers now scramble to meet demand. According to a recent report in the Journal Sentinel, in Wisconsin, as in many cities throughout the country, car owners are being told that there are no parts available to complete repairs.
Takata and Automakers Behind on Air Bag Repairs
Just a few weeks ago, the NHTSA reported that nearly 90 percent of vehicles with defective Takata air bags had not yet been fixed. The administration considered taking additional, aggressive steps to speed up the process.
The NHTSA has the authority to require more manufacturers to produce the air bag inflators, but has never used it. Honda—the automaker most affected by the recalls—assured the administration it had already made agreements with additional air bag suppliers like AutoLiv to bump up production. Still, it takes time to make the adjustments needed at the manufacturing level to produce the required volume of additional parts.
In Wisconsin, Toyota is putting car owners’ names on a waiting list, to be notified when the parts become available. President of the Automotive Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee noted that because Takata had such a majority of the air bag market, they haven’t been able to keep up with demand. Still, he recommended that people get their name on the list rather than wait, to expedite repairs once the inflators arrive.
Consumers Confused and Worried About Exploding Air Bags
Takata and many auto manufacturers have focused on repairing vehicles in more hot and humid areas of the country. Takata’s tests on the malfunctioning air bags seemed to reveal that hot weather and high absolute humidity, along with age, were factors increasing the risk that the air bags would explode upon deployment, sending shards of metal and plastic into the interior of the car and potentially seriously injuring and even killing occupants.
That means people in Wisconsin and other cooler, dryer areas may be waiting six months to a year to get their vehicles fixed. This has left drivers confused as to the best course of action. Some have considered shutting off their air bags, but that hasn’t been advised as air bags typically do save lives, and the recalls do not mean that every air bag will explode.
For now, drivers are advised to turn passenger air bags off if there are no other passengers in the vehicle.
Honda Takes Steps to Increase Repairs
Despite the slow process of repairing the air bags, Honda has recently launched an ad campaign encouraging car owners to get their vehicles in for repairs, though the campaign has so far been limited to hot and humid areas. Honda has announced that those customers who cannot get their vehicles fixed will be offered “transportation alternatives,” which may include loaner or rental cars.
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.