The National Highway Safety Administration this week made the “largest” recall in history even larger. More than 28 million vehicles had been recalled because of faulty Takata airbags. Now millions more vehicles have been added to the recall list. The number is now a whopping 69 million vehicles, maybe every one to five vehicles in the U.S.
“This issue is urgent,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told a group of national reporters. “On March 31st we had the 10th confirmed fatality in the United States due to a rupture of a recalled inflator.”
That was the case of a Texas teenager who died in an accident that Texas authorities said she should have survived if not for the air bag. Ironically, the item in the car designed to save a driver in a crash, killed the driver in this case.
The issue is the substance used to ignite the air bags which is ammonium nitrate. It can degrade after long-term exposure to moisture and high temperatures which in turn, causes the bag to explode and spew out metal parts which can injure or kill the driver.
NHTSA has added more models to the recall which now includes passenger side air bags. NHTSA says cars older than six years are most at risk because the longer the ammonium nitrate has to degrade, the worse it could be if you have an accident.
“Vehicle owners who have received notice that there are parts available for their repair should take action immediately,” said Rosekind.
But the problem with this is getting available parts. “Air bag inflators are not one size fits all, and replacement inflators need to be specifically engineered for each of the affected vehicle models. This means it takes time before all recalled inflators will be able to be replaced,” said Rosekind.
Some predictions say it will take years and years to repair all the effected vehicles.
Rosekind urges drivers to check the website safercar.gov frequently in the next few months to see if your vehicle has been added to the recall list. You can do that by plugging in your VIN number.