Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled millions of Takata air bags placed in vehicles manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW, and GM. These air bags are defective and have killed at least three Honda drivers so far and injured hundreds of people. The NHTSA issued the recall and urged consumers to act immediately upon the recall. You can search here by VIN number to see if your vehicle is affected.
A New York times article published yesterday and another September article report that an investigation showed that Honda and Takata knew that the Takata air bags have been exploding since 2004. Nonetheless, Honda did not issue a recall until 2008, and it was only on a small fraction of their vehicles. Several recalls have been issued since then, and last month, Honda issued another recall, bringing the total number of recalled Honda and Acura vehicles to 6 million.
The defective Takata air bags explode and send shrapnel or chemicals flying at drivers, killing and injuring them. Those who have died from the exploding air bags have been stabbed by shrapnel from the exploding airbags and basically bled to death. The air bags were designed to deploy using a chemical explosive that is encased in a metal canister; thus, an explosion can occur and rupture the airbag, harming the passengers in the vehicle. Takata’s engineers explained the defect in many different ways, but cannot give one clear explanation for the problem. One explanation was that a defective machine at one of their plants made the explosives contained in the airbag unstable and caused it to burn aggressively rather than inflate the air bag properly. Another explanation was that a switch designed to reject poorly made explosives was in the off position at the plant where the air bags were made.
What is disturbing about this major recall is that Honda and Takata knew about the problems with the Takata airbags for years, but did not adequately disclose the problem immediately. One of the first air bag ruptures occurred in 2004 in a Honda Accord in Alabama. In 2007, at least three more air bag ruptures were reported in Honda Civics and Accords. Honda entered into confidential settlements with each of the injured parties, but did not issue their first recall until 2008. The Times article points out that not only were Takata and Honda were slow to disclose the problems with the air bags, but the NHTSA was also slow in investigating the problems.
Based on the Times’ investigation, Honda failed to specifically report that the exploding air bags were the problem in the four injury cases that spanned between 2004 and 2007, but instead chose to submit a standard form that did not explain the explosion risk to the NHTSA. And, it appears that the NHTSA did not ask any questions either.
Now, information has surfaced that Takata’s defective air bags were installed in vehicles manufactured by Honda, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Isuzi. All of these manufactures have issued recalls due to the defective air bags, bringing the total number of recalls worldwide to more than 14 million.
Despite the NHTSA’s urgent recall, Toyota stated that, in some instances, it would disable rather than repair the air bags and leave notes not to have anyone ride in the front passenger seats. Similarly, Honda reported that it does not have enough parts to fix the air bags immediately.
The automobile industry has had numerous safety problems and recalls and many manufacturers have been liable for causing death and injury to consumers. Consumers who are injured by these defective Takata air bags can seek to recover compensation from the car manufacturer and the air bag manufacturer under Georgia products liability law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective air bag, you should consult an attorney immediately to review the circumstances of your case. Call us at 404-593-2620 to speak to a qualified attorney.
If you are the owner of one of the recalled vehicles, you should take your vehicle into a dealership immediately and have the air bag repaired. See below for the list of NHTSA’s recalled vehicles; however, you should also check with your car manufacturer directly for additional recall information for your specific vehicle.
Affected Vehicles, by Manufacturer, Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbags
Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2002 – 2004 Lexus SC 2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla 2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix 2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia 2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra 2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe
Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic 2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V 2003 – 2011 Honda Element 2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey 2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot 2006 – Honda Ridgeline 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX 2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima 2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder 2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra 2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35 2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4 2003 – Infiniti FX
Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2003 – 2004 Mazda6 2004 – Mazda RX-8
BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan 2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon 2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible 2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe 2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles 2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre 2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous 2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille 2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer 2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala 2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture 2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy 2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL 2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora 2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada 2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette 2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville 2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana
About the Author Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who solely focuses her practice on plaintiff’s personal injury work. Betty is consistently recognized by her peers as a top attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers and Georgia Trend and is highly recommended by her clients as a aggressive and persistent, yet caring and accessible attorney.