Although Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has refused to expand the scope of its recall of vehicles equipped with its airbags to the entire nation, Honda has decided to expand the recall of its vehicles to comply with a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to do just that.
The recall involves drivers’ side airbags that are equipped with faulty inflators, which can cause the airbags to explode when deployed in a crash, sending metal shrapnel into the person the airbags are supposed to protect. To date, at least four people in Hondas have been reported killed by the airbags, and 30 others have been injured. Because most of the airbag explosions have occurred in areas with high humidity, Takata insists the problem is limited to such areas, including the Gulf Coast of Texas, and refuses to expand the recall beyond the geographic regions they’ve agreed to.
The NHTSA is concerned enough to insist on the wider recall, however, and they are putting pressure on more automakers to comply. Automakers have been largely resistant to the nationwide scope of the recall, although yesterday Ford Motor Co. added 13,000 vehicles to its still-regional recall, and Chrysler Group LLC added almost 150,000 pickup trucks to its recall. Both companies, however, resisted the call to initiate a broader recall.
Honda, however, has decided to expand its recall nationwide. While Honda didn’t say how many more vehicles would be subject to the recall, since 2013 nearly 8 million vehicles from 10 different vehicle manufacturers have been recalled for the airbag problem in the United States alone. And Honda has been the hardest-hit automaker, so the number is likely to be fairly high.
Takata officials appeared before a House subcommittee Wednesday, where they were grilled by lawmakers. Under questioning, the company admitted that they don’t know the exact cause of the problems leading to the exploding airbags, but they also claimed there was no “scientific evidence” to support the expansion of the recall to areas without high heat and humidity.
Takata admitted that they are having a difficult time meeting the demand for replacement parts for the vehicles already being recalled, and that it plans to ramp up an expansion of production soon, so that it can meet demand. Honda has decided to work with two other major suppliers, however, to meet the demand for replacements.
Like the problem with ignition switches on GM cars, this problem has apparently been around a while. Takata first conducted an investigation into a ruptured air-bag inflator in a BMW vehicle, and came to the conclusion that the problem was an anomaly. A year later, Takata technicians were testing inflators for possible defects in 2004 in Michigan. These investigations occurred more than a year before the company claims it first learned of the defects that have now been linked to five grisly deaths.
The NHTSA wants to expand the airbag recall nationwide is because the regional recalls are confusing, and may be missing vehicles affected by the exploding airbag problem. If you receive a recall notice, be sure to follow the instructions exactly and have your airbags replaced. And stay tuned to this blog for news about the expansion of the recall parameters, which could happen.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an auto or truck accident, and you believe a defective safety device may have been a factor, please contact the knowledgeable and experienced Texas Automobile Defect Lawyers at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, so that we can investigate thoroughly and help you protect your rights.