The primary purpose for equipping vehicles with airbags is to offer protection to all passengers in the vehicle if there is an accident. However, in recent years, it has been discovered that some airbag systems are flawed, to the point that they may actually increase harm to vehicle occupants. The airbags systems causing the most concern right now, however, are those manufactured by Takata, and they appear on vehicles manufactured by about a dozen different car makers and may affect as many as 190 vehicle models in all.
The problem with Takata airbag systems is that they deploy with so much force that they shoot metal shrapnel into the vehicle’s cabin. It is a long-standing problem that seems to have started when Takata began to replace the propellant gas it had been using, a synthetic compound called atetrazole, with the much cheaper ammonium nitrate, which is the same chemical that led to the devastating explosion and fire in West, Texas a couple years back. They made that switch in 2001. The very first case in which a Takata airbag blew shrapnel into a vehicle happened in 2004, when the first death from this problem was recorded, although the company didn’t begin issuing recalls until 2008. those recalls have steadily increased over the years to the point that more than 34 million vehicles have been recalled so far, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to look into the problem.
Research found that, in hot, humid climates, such as those found along the Texas Gulf Coast, the volatile ammonium nitrate creates a chemical reaction with a metal found in the inflator housing, which supposedly weakens the structure of the inflator, causing it to explode and send shrapnel flying throughout the cabin.
The current number of recalled vehicles was a long time coming. For a long time, because the flaw was considered weather-related, NHTSA only announced recalls of some vehicles purchased and/or registered in states with high temperatures and high humidity. Several consumer advocacy groups and even Congress criticized this approach, because it discouraged vehicle owners from getting the necessary repairs if they happen to live outside of specific areas or if they moved away from the geographical recall area. When several deaths linked to exploding Takata airbags were reported in states that are supposedly non-humid, like California, Oklahoma, and Virginia, the regional nature of the recall was abandoned.
Takata Airbags – Difficult To Solve The Problem
Takata hasn’t always been forthcoming with information throughout this ordeal. Until recently, the company claimed that the defective airbags were only installed in the front seats of older models, but earlier this year it was found that they have been used in other parts of more recent cars as well. According to news reports from earlier this year, company technicians claimed they were ordered by Takata officials to destroy test results that showed cracks in airbag inflators as early as 2004.
The company is also having a difficult time meeting demand for the recalled vehicles. So far, fewer than five million airbags have been replaced and it has been difficult for the company to come up with new replacement units for vehicles being recalled. Because there have been a number of deaths and well over 100 injuries linked, we urge everyone with a vehicle that is being recalled for this problem to have it repaired as soon as possible. The NHTSA agrees, telling owners to get their recalls fixed as soon as possible because it is “essential to personal safety.”
Lubbock, Texas Takata Airbag Recall Attorneys
Whether or not you have received a recall notice about this defect, you can find out if your vehicle is subject to any recall, including one for Takata airbags, by inputting your VIN into the NHTSA’s Safer Car Vehicle Identification Number lookup tool. And if you or someone you love has been seriously injured or even killed by a defective airbag, please contact the Defective Vehicle Airbag Attorneys at the Liggett Law Group to help you protect your rights.