New York Times Reports on Increasing Concern Over Safety of Takata Airbags

By Martin & Jones on November 5, 2014

In an article published October 20, 2014, the New York Times reported on safety concerns with Takata airbags and problems with an expanding recall. Due to breadth of the safety issues, both with the sheer number of vehicles and the age of many of the vehicles affected, there has been great difficulty in implementing necessary repairs of vehicles. Takata, a Japanese auto supplier, was the manufacturer of a tremendous number of defective airbags. Takata airbags have been the subject of worldwide recalls involving more than 14 million vehicles from 11 auto makers.

This month, U.S. federal safety regulators urged the owners of more than five million vehicles to “act immediately” to get airbags fixed. A recent New York Times investigation showed that Honda and Takata for years delayed taking decisive action before issuing airbag recalls. Complaints on file with regulators demonstrated that various automakers blamed Takata airbags for at least 139 injuries, including 37 individuals who reported airbags that exploded.

One issue that is complicating the recall is the absence of available replacement parts. There are not currently available enough replacement parts to repair all of the defective airbags. As a result, manufacturers are sending out recall notifications only as parts become available, with higher priority in areas with high humidity where the airbags’ propellant is apparently more susceptible to exploding. Drivers may wait for weeks or longer to receive recall notices. Honda alone had 2.8 million cars affected by a recent recall; Toyota had over 800,000 vehicles affected by the recent warning.