Frustrated by low Takata airbag repair rates given the dangers the recalled airbags pose to motorists, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealers across Texas have declared September as Airbag Recall Repair Month.
The sweeping Takata airbag recall – the largest auto safety recall in history – affects 50 million airbag units in 37 million U.S. vehicles made by 19 vehicle manufacturers. The recall encompasses vehicles in all states, but Texas and other Southern states are in the “red zone” where long cycles of heat and humidity make the airbag recall more urgent.
Takata uses ammonium nitrate as the propellant in its airbag inflators. The problem is that the chemical is sensitive to heat and humidity and degrades with exposure, becoming hypersensitive and prone to deploy airbags with deadly force.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1.7 million vehicles remain on the road in Texas with unrepaired Takata airbags. Estimates from various cities are disturbing. In Amarillo, 16,000 vehicles remain on the road with unrepaired Takata airbags. In El Paso, more than 50,000 vehicles remain at risk of an airbag explosion. There are more than 165,000 vehicles with unrepaired Takata airbags driving around San Antonio. In Houston, more than 420,000 vehicles with the dangerous airbags remain in operation.
Drivers of all vehicles, including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles can check to see if their vehicle is covered by the Takata airbag recall by entering their VIN number on NHTSA’s recall website.
Federal and state safety officials are urging owners of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall to call the appropriate dealership to schedule a free repair.
As part of Airbag Recall Awareness Month, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealers are dispatching teams of people to reach drivers at local events and to help them check their vehicles for open recalls. Many local dealers are open extended hours to address the Takata airbag problem and loan cars free of charge to drivers whose vehicles are undergoing repair.
Takata airbags are blamed for 23 deaths worldwide. Most of the deaths have occurred in the U.S., including two people in Texas. The airbags are also linked to about 300 injuries, including facial lacerations and blindness.