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Airbags That Hurt More Than Help

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Japanese automotive parts manufacturer Takata is currently involved in the largest automotive recall in history. The company has had defective airbags in vehicles since 2013, when several reported incidents following deployment received international attention. Executives released a statement on the issue, but they initially only thought six makes were involved in the recall. They later admitted they had no idea which vehicles had the faulty airbags or what caused the problem. Takata later said that propellant chemicals were improperly stored and handled during production, causing the metal airbag inflators to burst open, and in July of last year, they blamed humid weather.

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New York Times

The issue involves defective inflator and propellant devices that may deploy improperly in a crash, ejecting metal fragments into the driver and passengers. Drivers continue to see issues with these airbags worldwide; two weeks ago, an Australian woman needed medical attention to address metal lodged in her head after a low-speed collision. Around 42 million vehicles are potentially impacted in the United States, and 7 million have seen recalls worldwide, with this number expected to increase.

Police are urging people to check if their car has a faulty Takata airbag, as the recall affects models from BMW, Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. Owners of the affected cars need to take their vehicles to their dealership to replace this part, but this is a lengthy process and many of these cars remain on the road with the faulty airbags.



  1. ?! The dates are off in the opening paragraph: they changed designs a few years back, it’s the old airbags that are problematic. “Deploy improperly” suggests (industry jargon) that the airbags aren’t supposed to go off, or fail to go off. Here it’s that they go off with a bang instead of a whoosh. [Not your fault if your sources garbles terminology.]

    May 12, 2017
  2. granirerj

    Always a shame to see a company go belly up due to a malfunction that is so widespread. This is likely also going to have a fairly large impact on the OEM’s who purchased the airbags for their cars. Recalls are always a messy business, especially one as large as this. I wonder if there is already another company poised to take over this space in the airbag market, or maybe OEM’s will now try to manufacture in house.

    May 21, 2017
    • If the company is incompetent why is it a shame that they go under? It is sad for most employees, who likely had no culpability. But shouldn’t shareholders and execs take a loss?

      May 22, 2017
  3. greenj18

    After hearing that Takata executives originally released a statement on the issue that said “they initially only thought six makes were involved in the recall” but later on they later admitted they had no idea which vehicles had the faulty airbags or what caused the problem makes me rather upset with the company and makes me slightly glad they went belly up. I know the lies they used were to save face but with such a widespread problem that could be fatal I feel like the truth could be the only correct choice.

    May 21, 2017
  4. jcash

    Scary that these airbags made it onto the road at all. I wonder how the recall process is going on these. Are they effectively spreading the word to the affected customers? There must be many people that still have these airbags and simply do not know. slip-ups like this are unacceptable when it comes to safety, and Takata will likely pay the price in a big way.

    May 23, 2017

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