If you had a Takata airbag repaired or replaced in an older model Honda vehicle, there’s a good chance you may need to have the airbag repaired yet again.
Honda says it is recalling about 1.1 million vehicles in the U.S. made before 2014, including many of its most popular models, to replace airbag inflators that were installed in previous recalls or had to be replaced after accidents. The company is also recalling another 84,000 vehicles in Canada.
The airbags behind the recalled Honda vehicles use ammonium nitrate – a highly unstable chemical – to trigger a small explosion that inflates the airbag. Because ammonium nitrate degrades with time, temperature and humidity, it can cause the airbag to deploy with such force that it blows apart the airbag assembly, potentially maiming or even killing vehicle occupants.
Takata is the only global airbag manufacturer to use ammonium nitrate as an airbag propellant. The company used the chemical as a cost-cutting measure in its push to become the world’s leading airbag supplier. Other airbag manufacturers normally use potassium as a propellant.
Although Takata knew its ammonium nitrate airbag inflators were dangerous, it continued to make replacement inflators with the same chemical, so airbags replaced under previous Takata recalls eventually will probably need to be recalled and repaired again.
Honda says it initially became aware of a potential issue with the previously recalled Takata airbags after a single-vehicle crash involving a 2004 Honda Odyssey. The vehicle’s front driver-side airbag deployed and the Takata PSDI-5D replacement inflator ruptured, injuring the driver’s arm.
A subsequent investigation revealed that PSDI-5D inflators manufactured at Takata’s Monclova, Mexico facility experienced manufacturing process errors that introduced excessive moisture into the inflator during assembly.
The airbags being re-recalled affect the following Honda and Acura vehicles:
- 2003 Acura 3.2CL
- 2013-2016 Acura ILX
- 2003-2006 Acura MDX
- 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
- 2004-2006 and 2009-2014 Acura TL
- 2007-2016 Acura RDX
- 2010-2013 Acura ZDX
- 2001-2007 and 2009 Honda Accord
- 2001-2005 Honda Civic
- 2002-2007 and 2010-2011 Honda CR-V
- 2003-2011 Honda Element
- 2007 Honda Fit
- 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003-2008 Honda Pilot
- 2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline
Takata airbags have been blamed for at least 23 deaths and more than 300 injuries. The wide majority of Takata airbag explosions have occurred in Honda vehicles, but 18 other automakers have equipped vehicles with the potentially deadly airbags.
In its year-end report on the recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that automakers have recalled 50.36 million Takata airbag units in the U.S. to date. Of those, 27.2 million were replaced, leaving more than 23 million unrepaired.