The scandal involving defective air bags has grown steadily and today encompasses about 7.8 million vehicles made by 10 different automakers and may be headed to court. The massive recall first exploded upon the public consciousness in October with a recall of 4.7 million vehicles made by six manufacturers.
Meanwhile, car owners who may have defective air bags in their vehicles may not be able to get them fixed any time soon. Takata, the air bag manufacturer, says it does not have the parts necessary to make the millions of repairs necessary.
Worse yet, despite the fact that Takata air bags have reportedly been linked to four deaths and more than 100 injuries, Takata is balking at recalling all of the cars the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says may be affected by the faulty device.
Once it began to speak publically about the potentially deadly defects present in its driver-side and passenger-seat air bags, Takata said the problem was exposure to humidity degrades the propellant necessary to inflate air bags. This causes air bag inflators to over-combust and shred their containers.
The manufacturer insists that only cars in high-humidity states, such as Texas and other Gulf Coast states, need to be repaired. However, the NHTSA in November called for a nationwide recall.
The NHTSA has limited recall powers and, in most cases, a car manufacturer’s recall is voluntary. Takata is arguing that NHTSA only has the authority to seek recalls from auto manufacturers and makers of replacement parts, not from original parts suppliers, according to ABC News.
To enforce a nationwide recall of Takata airbags, the NHTSA may have to go to court.
Some carmakers are initiating broad recalls. Honda, for example, announced on Dec. 9 that it would expand its recall to a national level. According to Consumer Reports, this brings the number of affected Honda/Acura vehicles to 5.4 million.
Has your car been recalled?
According to Consumer Reports, car makers recalling Takata air bags include:
In addition to each manufacturer’s website, car owners can check the U.S. government’s SaferCar.gov website to determine whether their car is part of this or any recall. This requires the vehicle identification number (VIN), which can be found on the dashboard in the lower driver-side corner of the windshield (look from outside the vehicle), and on registration and insurance documents.
If your car has been recalled because it contains a potentially faulty Takata air bag, you should have been notified by mail. If you have received a recall notice or otherwise ascertained that your car has been recalled, you should contact a local dealership to inquire about repairs.
Unfortunately, because of the scarcity of parts, your dealership may not be able to repair your car. Toyota has said its technicians will deactivate Takata airbags, but other manufacturers may only put you on a waiting list.
If the recall only affects the passenger side airbag of your car, Consumer Reports suggests that you can simply make sure no one sits in the passenger seat to be safe. If it is the driver-side air bag, consider minimizing how often your drive that vehicle, and riding with another person, or using public transportation or a rental car.
There is evidence that Takata knew about its faulty air bags long before it advised the public of the potential danger. Claims against the manufacturer will undoubtedly move forward, and those who have been unjustly injured deserve compensation.
If you think you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty Takata air bag, contact Herrman & Herrman. We can provide a free, no-obligation legal consultation about your potential faulty air bag claim. Contact us to set it up today.