Concern over Takata airbags that can explode with deadly force has prompted Mazda and federal regulators to announce the addition of nearly 270,000 U.S. vehicles to the Takata recall.
Mazda’s latest Takata recall includes certain 2003-2008 Mazda6, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, and 2004 MPV minivans. The recall also includes 2004-2006 MPV minivan models in certain states and territories where high heat and humidity can cause the Takata airbags’ inflators to degrade faster than in drier regions.
Mazda previously recalled the vehicles affected by this latest round of recalls, but at the time it could only replace the faulty Takata airbags with a newer, updated version of the same airbag design. This time, however, Mazda will remove those airbags and replace them with completely redesigned airbags.
Mazda says it is aware of several individuals who have been injured as a result of defective Takata airbags in Mazda vehicles. At least 23 people worldwide have been killed by Takata airbags. Most of the deaths have occurred in the U.S. and most have involved Honda vehicles. About 300 others have been injured by Takata airbags, many seriously.
Takata’s airbag defect stems from the use of ammonium nitrate in the airbag’s inflator mechanism. Ammonium nitrate tends to degrade rapidly in humidity and hot temperatures, causing it to become hypersensitive and prone to deploy with too much force. The excessive deployment can cause the airbag’s metal canister to blow apart and strike car occupants with shrapnel.
Speaking in Miami last week, Heidi King, Deputy Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 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 the Takata airbags.
“I am deeply concerned over the high number of unrepaired defective air bags in vehicles here in South Florida,” said King. “I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these air bags 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.”
Florida is part of the highest-risk area of the country for Takata airbag explosions. Vehicles in South Florida have been prioritized to get the recall repairs first. Three Floridians were among those killed. In most cases, the fatal air bag explosion was triggered by a fender bender from which the person injured or killed should have been able to walk away.
Of the more than 50 million vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall – the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history – more than half have yet to be repaired.