Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled millions of Takata air bags placed in vehicles manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW, and GM. These air bags are defective and have killed at least three Honda drivers so far and injured hundreds of people. The NHTSA issued the recall and urged consumers to act immediately upon the recall. You can search here by VIN number to see if your vehicle is affected.
A New York times article published yesterday and another September article report that an investigation showed that Honda and Takata knew that the Takata air bags have been exploding since 2004. Nonetheless, Honda did not issue a recall until 2008, and it was only on a small fraction of their vehicles. Several recalls have been issued since then, and last month, Honda issued another recall, bringing the total number of recalled Honda and Acura vehicles to 6 million.
The defective Takata air bags explode and send shrapnel or chemicals flying at drivers, killing and injuring them. Those who have died from the exploding air bags have been stabbed by shrapnel from the exploding airbags and basically bled to death. The air bags were designed to deploy using a chemical explosive that is encased in a metal canister; thus, an explosion can occur and rupture the airbag, harming the passengers in the vehicle. Takata’s engineers explained the defect in many different ways, but cannot give one clear explanation for the problem. One explanation was that a defective machine at one of their plants made the explosives contained in the airbag unstable and caused it to burn aggressively rather than inflate the air bag properly. Another explanation was that a switch designed to reject poorly made explosives was in the off position at the plant where the air bags were made.