By now, most motorists are now aware of the Takata airbag recall. Nearly 30 million cars in North America alone have been recalled due to factory-installed airbags that inflate explosively and cause shrapnel from internal components to hit drivers in the face. The defective airbags have been decisively linked with at least ten deaths and dozens of additional injuries in related auto accidents. Recently, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) announced that airbag manufacturer will be responsible for supporting the recall of between 35 million and 40 million additional vehicles over the next three years. The NHTSA is requiring cooperation from Takata as part of an amended consent order between the Japanese supplier and the agency. While the recall is an effort to increase safety, it also highlights the risk for serious injury or death to millions of American drivers.
Defective Airbag Inflators
The root of the current issue is the airbag inflator, which utilizes a chemical propellant to quickly inflate the airbag in the event of a crash. Over time, exposure to temperature and humidity changes can cause the propellant to degrade, leading to unpredictable, explosive deployment of the airbag. The explosions are strong enough to break pieces of the airbag housing loose, sending metal fragments flying into the face of innocent drivers.