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In a collision, airbags are supposed to keep us safe. That’s why the problems identified with Takata airbags are so concerning — they turn a universal safety device into a risk of grave injury or even death.
Throughout 2021, you may have heard about the Takata airbag recall. Or maybe you didn’t — many people are still unaware that they have potentially deadly airbags in their cars or trucks. Even Ramiro had read the news but didn’t realize it might affect his vehicle until he got a recall notice in the mail. “I thought they were only on newer imported cars,” he admits, “but mine is an American-made truck from 2012. This affects older vehicles and may be a much bigger deal than people think.”
Takata airbags were used by at least 19 vehicle makers, mostly between 2002 and 2015. The affected brands include Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, Mazda, Toyota, BMW, and Nissan. The defect involves the airbag’s inflation mechanism, which occasionally explodes upon deployment. When the inflator ruptures, it can send metal shards flying through the vehicle. To date, there have been 400 injuries and at least 19 tragic deaths in the U.S.
“The New York Times” first reported on the defect in 2014. A recall schedule was created in 2016, and since manufacturing new parts takes time, it prioritized the vehicles with the highest risks. In 2017, Takata pled guilty to intentionally misleading motor vehicle manufacturers about their airbag’s safety. Yet, despite replacing more than eight million airbags, new recalls continue to be announced, and an estimated total of 42 million vehicles are affected.
It’s important to note that injuries and death associated with the defective airbags are extremely rare. Compared to the number of impacted vehicles, the number of deaths has been minuscule. Still, it’s unnerving to know there are hidden dangers in the cars we use every day. And each death caused by the Takata airbags is a tragic loss.
You can help protect yourself by finding out if your vehicle has any outstanding safety recalls, Takata-related or otherwise. Visit NHTSA.gov/recalls, enter your VIN, and quickly find whether your vehicle has any open recalls. It will give you peace of mind and could save a life.