Concerned about the number of unrepaired Takata airbags in high-risk cars, federal auto regulators have issued an urgent plea to South Florida motorists, some of whom remain at an exceptionally high risk of injury or death.
Defective Takata airbags have inflator mechanisms that rely on ammonium nitrate to create a chemical reaction that fills airbags in a crash. The chemical compound, however, is extremely volatile and grows increasingly unstable as it ages, especially in areas with a humid climate. As a result, the Takata airbags may deploy with deadly force, blasting car occupants with metal shrapnel in much the same way a pipe bomb would.
These hypersensitive airbags have exploded even in minor accidents such as parking lot collisions and other fender-benders from which the car occupants should have been able to walk away unharmed.
Drivers of certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles and 2006 Ford Rangers and Mazda B-series trucks are at the highest risk of a Takata airbag explosion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the Takata airbags in these vehicles have as high as a 50 percent chance of exploding in an accident. Vehicles in this high-risk category are under a “do not drive warning.”
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King joined automakers and South Florida community leaders to urge Floridians to check their vehicle identification (VIN) numbers to see if their vehicles are under recall for defective Takata airbags. Because South Florida is part of the highest-risk area of the country, vehicles in the region have been prioritized to get repair parts first.
“I am deeply concerned over the high number of unrepaired defective airbags in vehicles here in South Florida,” said King. “I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these airbags can be deadly. If your vehicle is under recall, do not delay in getting it to your dealer for a free repair. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.”
At least 23 deaths and more than 300 injuries worldwide are linked to Takata air bags that have exploded. Three Floridians were among those killed.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest and most complex vehicle recall in U.S. history, involving 19 vehicle manufacturers, 37 million U.S. vehicles, and approximately 50 million airbags. In just two Florida counties — Broward and Miami-Dade — there are nearly 459,000 vehicles with unrepaired Takata airbags.
Repairs are provided by dealerships free of charge and take about an hour to perform.
NHTSA urges all drivers to take the following actions to ensure they don’t become a part of the growing toll of people maimed or killed by Takata airbags:
- Visit NHTSA.gov/recalls to find out if your car or truck is under recall. Search using your VIN. Your search result will tell you if your car or truck is included in this or any other safety recall at this time. Vehicles scheduled for future recalls will not show up in this search, so it is important that you check regularly, at least twice per year.
- If your vehicle does have a recall, call your local dealer to schedule the free repair. Just remember that in the Takata airbag recalls, there are priority groups; parts are only available for certain vehicles starting on certain dates.
- Sign up at NHTSA.gov/Alerts to be notified by e-mail if your vehicle is affected by a future recall.
- Get answers to frequently asked questions at NHTSA.gov/takata.