Following an investigation into possible exploding airbags it began in June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an urgent warning to motorists. The agency notes more than 4.7 million vehicles may contain defective airbags manufactured by Takata, which can explode in even a minor collision, sending shrapnel flying at drivers and passengers. Automakers worldwide already have recalled 12 million vehicles for the problem.
Takata airbags are used in a variety of automobiles produced by different manufacturers. The NHTSA alert includes cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors (GM), and Ford. The problem appears to be a faulty inflator in the airbags on either the driver or passenger side, or both, that either fails to deploy the airbag in a crash, or deploys the system with excessive force, causing components to break apart.
On Sept. 29, a 46-year-old woman in Orlando was killed after being involved in a fender-bender when her airbag shot shards of metal into her neck. She was driving a 2001 Honda Accord, which is included among the models that are being recalled.
The nonprofit group Center for Auto Safety estimates the defective airbags may be installed in as many as 25 million vehicles in the United States. The NHTSA says owners of cars made in the early 2000s should have their vehicle inspected immediately for airbag problems. Takata said it will cooperate with the NHTSA and will provide necessary repairs.
To determine if your car is involved in the exploding airbag warning, the NHTSA has set up a website where you can enter your vehicle’s VIN number to find out. Visit www.safercar.gov for more information, a list of affected vehicles, and related links.