A Massive Recall of Airbags
A mushrooming recall of vehicle air bags made by Takata, a Japanese auto supplier, is sending shock ways across the United States.
It is approximated that more than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers may contain the air bags have been recalled worldwide.
The auto industry is facing a safety crisis, spurred by revelations that General Motors failed for years to disclose a defective ignition switch that it has linked to at least 29 deaths.
Now automakers, as well as federal regulators, have responded with increasing urgency, recalling more than 50 million vehicles in the United States this year, shattering the record of about 30 million in 2004.
Air bags, particularly those made by Takata, have been one of the biggest and longest-simmering problems.
A New York Times investigation in September revealed that Honda and Takata had failed for years to take decisive action before issuing the recalls.
It is now understood that complaints received by regulators about various automakers blamed Takata air bags for at least 139 injuries, including 37 people who reported air bags that exploded, the investigation showed.
Honda itself has said that two people, not including Ms. Tran, were killed by rupturing air bags, and more than 30 people injured. Honda said in a statement that it was “too early” to draw any conclusions on Ms. Tran’s fatal injuries.
Honda is sending out recall notifications only as parts become available, with priority in areas of high humidity, where the air bags’ propellant was apparently more susceptible to exploding.
Toyota, which had 844,000 vehicles affected by the warning, announced it was particularly urging the owners of about 247,000 of the cars in high-humidity areas along the Gulf Coast to make a special effort to get them fixed.
At the heart of the defect is a faulty propellant that is intended to burn quickly and produce gas to inflate the air bag but instead is too strong and can rupture its container, shooting metal parts into the cabin of the vehicle.