A coalition of civic and state officials are making the rounds in Southern California to warn motorists about faulty Takata airbags and this week this group stopped by in Orange County to get the word out. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the coalition estimates that more than one million defective airbag inflators in Southern California remain unrepaired, putting many community members at risk of serious injury or even death.
The Problem with Takata Inflators
Millions of vehicles equipped with these defective inflators have been recalled. In fact, it’s the largest auto recall in U.S. history. The inflators, which have the chemical ammonium nitrate (commonly used in fertilizers), can deteriorate with heat and humidity in the environment. When the airbags deploy, they can do so with explosive force, expelling metal shrapnel into the vehicle compartment.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 11 deaths have been blamed on these faulty bags, including three in California, and there have been more than 180 injuries ranging from lacerations to broken bones and shattered teeth. Right now, the federal recall covers 70 million air bags in as many as 42 million vehicles from 19 automakers. Takata pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges for deceiving automakers about the safety of its products. The company has agreed to a $1 billion penalty.
What Can Consumers Do?
If you haven’t received a notification from the automaker, visit airbagrecall.com. Enter your vehicle identification number or VIN and click the “check my vehicle” button. The website will tell you if your vehicle has been affected or is part of the recall. If you do not have Internet access, call your local auto dealer and ask them to check if your vehicle has been affected. If you do find out that the vehicle is part of this recall, automakers will replace the airbags for free.
In some cases, they may even offer to cart your vehicle to a licensed dealer and bring it back, fixed. Some may offer a free rental while your car is in the shop as well. Officials say some vehicles are more at risk including Honda Civics and Accords (2001-2002 models), Honda Pilots (2003), Acura TL/CLs (2002 and 2003), Honda Odysseys (2002-2003) and Honda CR-Vs (2002).
Do not take a gamble with these vehicles. And please do not ignore the recall. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of these defective airbags, contact an experienced Orange County auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.