Takata Corporation is adding about 2.7 million vehicles from Ford, Nissan and Mazda to the long list of vehicles being recalled for defective airbag inflators that have been blamed for 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the inflators are a type that previously was thought to be safe. The vehicles affected by this recall are from the 2005 to 2012 model years.
The Problem with Takata Inflators
Takata airbag inflators can explode with too much force and send shrapnel flying into vehicle occupants. The defective airbags have spurred the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. Before this announcement, 42 million vehicles and up to 69 million inflators in the nation had been recalled for repairs. Takata uses a chemical compound called ammonium nitrate to inflate its bags.
However, this compound, which is also used to manufacture fertilizer, can deteriorate when exposed to high heat or humidity and cause the airbags to explode with excessive force. Previously the company believed that a drying agent (called a desiccant) stopped the compound from degrading at that the inflators were safe. But, tests done by Takata show that for the first time, a type of desiccated inflator could pose a safety risk if not inflated. So far there have been no reports of any inflators with the desiccant rupturing.
The new recall affects a little over 515,000 Versa subcompact hatchback and sedans from the 2007 through 2012 model years. Mazda has recalled 6,000 of its B-series trucks from the 2007 through 2009 models. Ford is reviewing the information and says it intends to file a list of models within the five days required by law. In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Takata said that it tested inflators returned from Nissan and Ford vehicles that use calcium sulfate as a drying agent.
Although none of the inflators actually blew apart, some showed a pattern of deterioration in the ammonium nitrate propellant over time suggesting a future risk of rupture. This most recent recall raises doubts about the safety of other Takata inflators that use ammonium nitrate and desiccants. Takata filed for bankruptcy last month in the United States and Japan, saying that was the only way to ensure it could keep supplying replacements for faulty inflators.
What You Can Do
If your inflator is part of this recall, get it replaced as soon as possible. To find out if your vehicle is part of the recall, visit NHTSA’s safercar.gov website and enter your 17-digit vehicle identification number. Allow a few days for the models in the most recent recall to show up in the database. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of Takata airbag defects, contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.