airbag

Yet more news concerning improperly-manufactured Takata airbags – over in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Takata has announced that the parts manufacturer’s recall on defective airbag inflators is set to expand to nearly 34 million vehicles in the US.

This will effectively double the current number of affected vehicles that have been recalled in North America. Takata has acknowledged that a defect exists in its air bag inflators, and has agreed to a national recall of certain types of driver and passenger side airbag inflators.

The inflators were assembled with propellant tablets that can degrade over time. Originally, it was reported that these propellants were affected by exposure to moisture, which changes the structure of the chemical propellant that ignites when an air bag deploys – the degraded propellant ignites too quickly, producing excess pressure that causes the inflator to rupture and sends metal shards into the passenger cabin that can lead to serious injury or death.

Testing and investigation by Takata, auto manufacturers and independent researchers have not yet established a definitive root cause of the inflator malfunctions, but the NHTSA’s analysis of test results and engineering reports from independent organisations points to moisture infiltrating the defective inflators over extended periods of time as a factor.

SRS-Airbag

The current action expands regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators, currently limited to areas of high absolute humidity, to nationwide recalls in the US involving more than 16 million vehicles. They also expand the current nationwide recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million vehicles.

The expanded recall broadens the vehicle list, and affected automakers include General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and BMW, on top of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi, which are all anticipated to detail the list of affected models in the days to come. The NHTSA says that the remedy of vehicles will be prioritised based upon risk, with the vehicles that present the greatest risk in terms of age and geographic location to be serviced first.

The agency has already held informal discussions with auto makers and parts suppliers in an effort to coordinate one of the largest and most complex product recalls in history. The issue of replacing the defective airbags in rapid fashion has been hampered by the limited supplies of replacement parts from Takata and other parts manufacturers such as Daicel and Autoliv.

Closer to home, Honda Australia and Nissan Australia yesterday announced that they were recalling 130,000 and 102,000 vehicles respectively over the Takata airbag issue. On the local front, a source at Honda Malaysia has said that the company is set to issue a recall sometime later this week – Honda Motor Co had earlier said that it would announce regional recalls locally, so it appears these are starting to flow out.