American Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor North America Inc. are recalling an additional 1 million vehicles equipped with Takata Corp. air bags that pose an explosion risk. This comes after Takata in early January recalled another 3.3 million air bag inflators with the defect. The latest recalls of roughly 465,000 Honda and Acura and 600,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles are part of the third phase of Takata air bag recalls announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This latest recall covers frontal air bags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla. Automakers were to provide specific models to NHTSA.
Takata’s air bags have prompted one of the largest recalls in U.S. history. There were roughly 34 million vehicles under recall as of November 2017, according to NHTSA. The recalls are being conducted in phases based on vehicles’ location and age. The recent additions bring the total number of Honda and Acura automobiles under recall to almost 12 million, the company said.
As we have previously reported, the defective air bags have caused at least 11 deaths in Honda vehicles. The ammonium nitrate that inflates the bags can fire by mistake, especially in high humidity, blasting chemicals and shrapnel at passengers and drivers. Takata is facing multidistrict litigation, regulator actions, criminal investigations and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the air bags. The company has pled guilty to wire fraud, agreed to pay $1 billion in fines and restitution, and acknowledged that it ran a scheme to use false reports and other misrepresentations to convince automakers to buy air bag systems that contained faulty, inferior or otherwise defective inflators.
In May, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW became the first four automakers to exit the multidistrict litigation after agreeing to pay a combined $553.6 million settlement. The auto companies have pointed to Takata’s guilty plea and the settlement as a “game changer” that absolves them of most of their liability to consumers in the case. They maintained that they did not know the air bags were faulty when they installed them in vehicles.
NHTSA maintains a list of vehicles affected and guidance on steps to take if a car is affected. To find out if a vehicle is on the recall list for defective Takata air bags, visit the NHTSA website. All defective Takata air bags are under recall and will be replaced at no charge. NHTSA has an online lookup tool where drivers can enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to determine if any safety or recall issues affect their vehicle. The full list of vehicles affected by the air bag recall, broken down by manufacturer, is also available on the NHTSA website.
Sources: Law360.com and CNN