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Yesterday, Honda Motor Co disclosed that a Malaysian woman was killed on July 27 in an incident involving a defective driver’s airbag in her 2003 Honda City. Following a collision, the improperly-manufactured front driver airbag inflator ruptured, sending shrapnel flying inside the car – some of this hit the driver, resulting in the fatality.

The airbag was manufactured by Japanese parts maker Takata Corp, which has been at the centre of a series of massive recalls worldwide since the issue surfaced in 2008. Honda has now expanded its ongoing recall to another 170,000 units of the Jazz, City and Civic in Asia and Europe, raising the total number of its vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall to nearly 10 million units.

Following this, Honda Malaysia is recalling 15,734 vehicles locally to replace the driver-side airbags – the models affected by the recall are 15,612 units of the Honda City sold in 2003 and 2004 as well as 122 units of the fully-imported Honda Jazz sold in 2004. No other models are involved in this latest airbag-related recall.

The company did not issue an official statement regarding the matter, but a Honda Malaysia source disclosed the figures – as well as the fact that a recall had been issued – via a phone conversation earlier last night.

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The source added that as of 1 pm yesterday, the company had begun calling owners of the affected cars informing them of the recall. There is no fixed time frame for the replacement period – Honda Malaysia will continue the exercise until all affected vehicles have had their airbags replaced, which may take some time, given that ownership of some vehicles might have changed since purchase. It will however undertake all repairs and replacement work to completion.

While involving Takata-made airbags yet again, this recall is different than that carried out in June this year, which the 2003 Honda City was also involved in. Then, Honda Malaysia recalled the City as well as the 2001-2003 Honda Stream, 2002-2003 Honda Jazz and 2003 Honda Accord to replace passenger side airbags.

The fatality in Malaysia is the fifth linked to defective airbags and, besides being the first to occur outside of the United States, is the first to involve the driver’s side airbag. Honda opened a casebook on the incident on August 27, and later called in Takata to investigate the matter. The findings were reported back to Japan’s transport ministry on September 10.

The culprit in this case has been traced to propellant tablets affected by moisture. This was brought about by a conveyor that malfunctioned at Takata’s now-defunct US plant in LaGrange, Georgia, which exposed the propellant tablets left on the belt to moisture – the automaker said that such moisture could cause the explosives to become unstable, detonating with excessive force during a collision.

Honda owners seeking clarification on the matter can call the Honda Malaysia hotline number at 1-800-88-2020 for information.