Airbag supplier Takata, a Japanese company, has been ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to expand its current recall to the national level. The NHTSA contacted Takata and 10 vehicle manufacturers this week, ordering a national recall of affected vehicles.
The expanded recall follows further evaluation after the NHTSA discovered a recent incident involving a driver’s side air bag inflator that failed outside an area of high absolute humidity. The original recall applied only to vehicles sold in states such as Florida where high humidity can contribute to airbag failure.
The NHTSA also warned that unless Takata and the manufacturers quickly agreed to the expanded recall, then it would use its statutory powers “to ensure vehicles that use the same or similar air bag inflator are recalled.”
“By demanding this national recall, NHTSA has demonstrated once again that it will follow data and evidence to protect the lives of Americans on the road and to hold manufacturers accountable,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The affected manufacturers are: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. Not all models use Takata airbags and the model years can vary.
The NHTSA says that it will require each manufacturer to file, under oath, a detailed report and produce all related documents about completed, ongoing or planned testing of Takata inflators outside the current regional recall areas.
The agency says that it is demanding this information “…to compel Takata and the affected industry to be frank with not only NHTSA, but the American public, as to what testing and additional steps they have done and plan to do to control and mitigate the risk associated with Takata’s defective inflators.”
Special Order to Takata
NHTSA has also issued a Special Order to Takata, representing the second one the agency has issued to the company about this defect. That order compels Takata to “…provide, under oath, documents and detailed information on the propellant used in Takata’s inflators.”
Since the original recall Takata has admitted that it had changed the chemical mix of its air bag inflator propellant in its newly-designed inflators. Moving forward, the NHTSA says that it will continue to anaylze “…the information received to determine if the chemical composition of Takata’s propellant mix may be a cause and/or a contributing factor in the air bag inflator ruptures.”
“We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “We’re pushing Takata and all affected manufacturers to issue the recall and to ensure the recalls capture the full scope of the problems.”
Recall Acknowledgement Letter
The NHTSA is also issuing a Recall Acknowledgement Letter, what it describes as “a routine response to all Safety Recall Reports filed with the agency.” The letter provides a summary of the information submitted by Takata about its defective passenger side air bag inflators and also identifies the information gaps the NHTSA insists Takata spell out to establish that this manufacturer is supplying complete details as the law requires.
The agency says that it “…is not aware of either field incidents or test data suggesting that the problem affecting passenger-side air bags in the areas of persistently high humidity extends beyond those areas, the agency has been pushing the industry to perform testing to ensure that current recalls effectively cover vehicles with air bags that could be potentially affected by this defect.”
The agency will use the new information it receives from Takata and the 10 car manufacturers to provide supplementary details it needs to further its probe into complicated matter. The NHTSA says that responses to the General Order and Special Order are expected by December 5.
Year of the Recalls
With the expanded recall, 2014 will most certainly go down as the Year of the Recall. Car owners should visit the NHTSA’s Recalls & Defects page to keep up with the latest news. You can also plug in your vehicle identification number (VIN) to determine if your car has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.
Related Recall News
News story supplied by the NHTSA.