Four major automobile manufacturers have issued a recall on nearly 3.5 million vehicles sold worldwide – including in the U.S. – due the fact that the passenger airbags pose an injury risk.
Our Weston injury lawyers understand that this is in fact the largest-ever recall involving airbags. In all cases, the airbags were produced by a company called Takata, which is the world’s second-biggest supplier of both airbags and seat belts.
Many auto manufacturers these days end up using similar or common vehicle parts in order to reduce their costs. However, that means that when there is a recall on one of these parts, many different companies are affected. This may save the companies money, but it presents a huge risk to public safety.
This recall is the largest since Toyota – which has gained a reputation over the last several years as a serial recaller – issued one in October for 7 million vehicles over a defective power window switch. Prior to that, the company had to pull some 19 million vehicles across the globe between 2009 and 2011, due to problems with unintended acceleration.
The car makers – Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan – report there are no injuries or deaths reported due to these defective airbags, which allegedly have the potential to catch fire.
Airbags are credited with saving countless lives by rapidly inflating and cushioning the blow in the event of a crash. But in the U.S., rules changed back in the late 1990s, to require a reduction of force deployment, because numerous injuries were caused by those early models due to the intense impact of rapid inflation.
In this case, the airbags that are situated in the front passenger seat may fail to properly inflate. The propellant used in the inflator, the company said, is defective. So not only is there the airbag not working and a fire being sparked, but passengers may also be hurt by metal fragments that might either shoot up toward the windshield or down into the passenger well area.
The vehicles include popular models such as the Toyota Corolla and Camry, the Honda Civic and the Nissan Maxima. All were produced between 2000 and 2003.
The airbag manufacturer said it learned of the problem following two crashes with similar airbag issues – one in Japan and one in Puerto Rico. Those were back in late 2011. The company tried to replicate the issue, but had no success. The following fall, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported three more faulty airbag incidents occurred – one in Maryland and two more in Puerto Rico.
It wasn’t until October of 2012 – one full year after it first learned of potential problems – that Takata conceded the propellant used in the airbags may have been improperly compressed, which could be the root of the problems. A few months later, it also found that certain parts made at a plant in Mexico had been exposed to natural elements during production that could weaken effectiveness.
This company produced the 2.8 million Honda driver-side airbags that had to be recalled in model years 2008 through 2011.
The company also produced some 8 million seat belts that had to be recalled back in 1995.
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