18 Jan

Takata Announces New Inflator Recall

Jan. 18, 2017 –  Takata Corporation has announced that additional air bag inflator modules may be faulty, leading to another set of recalls that looks poised to further extend an already lengthy process that has affected millions of vehicles in the U.S. and around the world.

The Defect

Takata will recall non-desiccated frontal air bag inflators containing phase stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant, according to documents compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, this will include PSPI, PSPI-1.1, PSPI-2, PSPI 6, PSPI-L and SPI model inflators. These were not included in any previous recalls.

The recall will address a significant number of vehicles from multiple automakers:

  • Model year 2005-2008 vehicles registered in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • Model year 2009 vehicles registered in  Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Model year 2012 vehicles registered in the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For instance, Fiat Chrysler will recall more than 100,000 trucks and SUVs from the 2009 and 2010 model years that have these inflators installed, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Takata believes that prolonged exposure to high heat, humidity and multiple temperature swings can cause the propellant in these inflators to degrade. If activated, the inflators may rupture, causing metal fragments to travel through the airbag at high speeds and strike occupants. To date, as many as 16 people have been killed worldwide as a result of this defect, and about 180 have been injured.

Timeline of Events

  • Nov. 3, 2015 – Takata and the NHTSA entered into a consent order to resolve certain issues that had arisen during the ongoing investigation over the defective air bag inflators. The purpose of this order was to further identify and control risks.
  • May 4, 2016 – Takata and the NHTSA amended their consent order, based on recent findings that identified the PSAN inflators as capable of reaching dangerous levels of degradation that could result in shrapnel emanating during launch. The NHTSA ordered Takata to file defect reports.
  • May 16, 2016 – Takata submitted its reports as requested.
  • Jan. 3, 2017 – Takata completed the most recent report, specified by the amended consent order, which deals with the most recent revelations regarding defective air bags.

Resolution

In many cases, vehicles owners may not be able to have this problem resolved immediately. Takata reports that replacement parts simply aren’t available for many of the vehicles that have been affected. The manufacturer will work with automakers to ensure each vehicle gets an appropriate remedy, and will communicate with customers so they know to get replacement inflators as soon as they are available. This will be done free of charge.

In a broader sense, overall resolution of the Takata defects may take many more years. For instance, CNN Money reports that federal safety regulators think it may take until 2023 for all recalled air bags to be repaired. The main challenge is that few recalls address every single affected vehicle – while the NHTSA considers this to be the goal in this case.

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