The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a rare alert Monday, warning owners with air bags made by Takata to have their vehicles inspected as soon as possible. This is due to potentially defective front-seat air bag inflators that can rupture and spray metal shrapnel.
Monday, Toyota Motor Corp. also announced a recall of 247,000 cars, SUVs and pickup trucks in the U.S. for the same problem. This new recall brings the total number of vehicles affected by regional recalls as a result of Takata air bags to more than 4.7 million.
This warning is critical for vehicles registered or originally sold in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa because humid weather is believed to aggravate the problem.
The regional recalls by Toyota and other automakers including Honda Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Group began in high-humidity areas of the U.S. once the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started its investigation of air bag explosions in Florida and Puerto Rico.
Following this prompt by NHTSA, Takata and automakers are still trying to confirm whether the high humidity plays a role in the function of the inflators.
“At this point, the issue appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity,” NHTSA said in a statement on Monday. “However, we are leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue.”
According to documents, Toyota recovered replaced air bag inflators from South Florida in August while Takata conducted an evaluation. On October 10th, Takata informed Toyota that a number of inflators performed “improperly” during testing. After reviewing data with NHTSA five days later, Toyota decided on the recall.
Takata has recalled about 16 million vehicles globally for defective air bags, including the regional recalls, over the past six years. There have been at least four deaths linked to the defective air bags, all in Honda automobiles.
The warning affects vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW and General Motors.
Toyota issued its own Takata-related warning, saying it would conduct a “supplemental safety recall” of 247,000 of its Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC vehicles manufactured 2001-2004. All have Takata air bags.
Dealers will replace the front passenger air bag inflator with a newly made replacement. If a replacement is not available as a temporary measure, the dealer will disable the air bag and advise the customer not to use the front passenger seat, according to the NHTSA documents.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of an auto defect or a safety feature failing to work, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.