Defective airbag warning for US drivers

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If you’re a US driver that owns a Honda, Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Nissan or General Motors car, you might want to have your garage take a look at your airbags, as a warning has gone out from the Traffic Safety Administration that suggests cars from those manufacturers made between 2000 and 2006 (plus the 2011 Honda Element) might have made use of Takata airbags, which are now being classified as dangerous after they were discovered to have a chance of exploding during an accident and injuring a driver or passenger.

“The message comes with urgency,” reads the post on the NHTSA’s website, “especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.”

Most people who are affected by this should be receiving recall notices, which the NHTSA wishes people to respond to as soon as possible, as it’s a major safety concern that could lead to serious injuries in the event of an accident. However it you aren’t sure if you are affected and want to check, you can compare your vehicles identification number (VIN) with those listed on the SaferCar website.

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In speaking with ABC, car safety exp[ert Sean Kane said that the problem lies with the canister that the airbag is contained in:

“[It’s] the canister which sits in the center of the airbag, it’s like a metal can,” Kane said. “When that’s ignited, it’s overpressurizing the canister and the canister is exploding, much like an IED [improvised explosive device], and sending shrapnel into the occupants of the vehicle.”

That details how serious this problem is, as accident with that sort of dangerous device in the car could be potentially fatal. In-fact, the inspection and eventual recall of the affected vehicles began because a Florida woman died last month in strange circumstances after an accident, with what looked like stab wounds to the neck. Detectives ultimately determined that it was consistent with airbag shrapnel.

The fact that the affected vehicles list is so long too, makes it a much greater challenge for car makers to get all of the problematic vehicles fixed and their airbags replaced.

Toyota has also released a secondary statement of its own, recalling some 250,000 of its vehicles. While it didn’t outright admit that there was a problem with the airbags, it said that it wanted to perform humidity tests upon them to make sure that they were able to perform effectively.

Takata for its own part said that it would work with the NHTSA to ensure there were no lingering problems with its airbags. It did however say that it stood by the quality of its products.

 

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Shaun has been contributing to motoring and technology sites in various sectors for many years. He has a keen interest in anything automotive and many contacts across the industry, which helps feed his appetite for the latest news and views.