Recovering from Takata Airbag Recall
The Takata Airbag Crisis
The airbag defects have led to the loss of life and injured many. Had Takata taken more time to test their airbags and heed warning signs that their airbags were defective, the airbag crisis could have been avoided.
Takata became an airbag inflator manufacturer back in 1991. In 2001, the company stopped using Terazole in the propellants and instead switched to ammonium nitrate.
Two years later, the first case of an inflator rupturing was recorded in Switzerland. The car involved was a BMW. The second case was reported in Alabama in 2004, this time the vehicle affected was a Honda.
In 2007, three more incidents were reported all involving Honda vehicles. NHTSA opened investigations into the airbags in 2009. Takata only took action in 2013 when they made regional recalls.
NHTSA served Takata with a letter demanding that they make a public acknowledgment of the defects in their airbags. Takata did not honor this request. Instead, they cited that there was not enough data to warrant a public response. In 2015, NHTSA demanded a fine of $200 million from the company for violating motor vehicle safety. It was this move that forced Takata to expedite the recalls and make repairs.
Takata Moves to File For Bankruptcy
The $1 billion payout and hefty legal fees forced Takata to file for bankruptcy. The move was to slash its debts while working an agreement to sell their assets to a different company. Currently, the recall rate is at 42 million, and this is expected to go on in the coming years. Takata's airbags defects affected about a quarter of the vehicles used on U.S roads. The defects have led to several deaths and numerous injuries.
Part of the criminal settlement required that Takata deposit a $125 million fund with the U.S Justice Department. The money will go towards compensation for the affected families. Automakers are responsible for making the repairs on the defective airbags starting with cars in the hottest climates.
Takata Airbag Defects Recall Zones
Takata issued recalls based on temperature and humidity. Priority was given to humid and hot areas because they are more susceptible to exploding due to the fiery shrapnel. The recalls were classified into zones as described below.
Zone A represents hot and humid areas such as Florida, Alabama, California, Mississippi, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and the Virgin Islands in the U.S
The areas in this one are the less hot and humid regions. These include Arizona, District of Columbia, Delaware, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Zone C was the last zone for the recalls because these areas are least hot and humid. Zone C areas included Alaska, Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Massachusetts, Iowa, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
FAQ Takata Airbag Recall
Is My Vehicle Affected By The Recall?
The vehicles recalled for the defective airbags include Honda, BMW, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, General Motors, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Nissan. If your vehicle has been recalled, you should get a notice from your car's manufacturer. Car owners who have not received the recall notice and are concerned about the safety of the airbags should use the NHTSA recall tool to check whether their vehicle is included in the list. NHTSA has also recommended that car owners make use of the VIN Look-Up Tool and check if their car has been recalled twice in every year. NHTSA signed a consent order with Takata based on the zones. There is a possibility for a future recall on your car, and you need to check every year. For future notifications, car owners can sign up on the NHTSA site for alerts. It is imperative that car owners update their current address information to make communication faster and easier in case there is a recall on your vehicle.
The Takata Airbag Recall Lawsuit
In the Takata airbag injury lawsuits, lawyers representing the victims cited that some of the automakers were previously aware of the airbag defects. The story was aired in the New York Times. It was also cited that Takata carried out tests on their airbags back in 2004. Following the tests, the manufacturers and executives were notified of the deadly shrapnel emitted. According to the NYT, the executives issued an order to halt the testing and to destroy the evidence that was collected.
Following the Takata Airbag Injury Lawsuits, the company pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay $1 billion in the form of penalties. The money was to cater for the people injured and the lives lost due to the airbag defects.