Toyota announced it is recalling about 65,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially deadly Takata airbag units that were installed in previous recalls.
The newest recall, announced on Dec. 12, covers the 2003-2005 Toyota Corolla, 2002-2005 Toyota Tundra, and the 2002-2005 Lexus SC.
The vehicles were subject to previous recalls triggered by Takata airbags containing faulty inflators that turned the airbag units into hypersensitive bombs. Takata airbags are known to blast metal shrapnel at vehicle occupants, even in mild fender benders. The airbags have been blamed for at least 23 deaths and 300 injuries.
The defect in Takata’s airbags stems from the company’s use of ammonium nitrate as a chemical propellant in the inflator mechanisms. The highly volatile chemical is prone to becoming more unstable with exposure to heat and humidity, which makes the airbag prone to deploy with lethal force.
The second recall of Takata airbags in the Toyota and Lexus vehicles underscores what could be a defect in the recall itself – that is, using ammonium nitrate-driven inflators in the replacement Takata airbags, knowing that those airbags will probably need to be recalled again in the future and replaced with safer airbag models. Other major manufacturers have avoided using ammonium nitrate in their airbags because of the safety risks.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest automotive recall in history. By the end of 2019, more than 100 million vehicles will have been recalled because of defective Takata airbag.
Takata and its U.S. entity TK Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy in June 2017 as it faced fiscal insolvency over the massive recall. The Japanese company was bought by Key Safety Systems, the U.S. unit of China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.
In February, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware confirmed the reorganization plan of TK Holdings, clearing the way for the Takata Airbag Individual Restitution Fund (IRF). The $975 million Takata fund allocates $125 million to personal injury and wrongful death claimants – past, present, and future victims of Takata’s defective airbags, regardless of the vehicle in which the airbags were installed. Victims will be compensated for their pain and suffering that was caused by Takata’s willful negligence.