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The Takata Airbag Recall: Plans for Safety in a Car Accident Might Explode in Your Face (2021)
If you own a vehicle with a Takata brand airbag, you could be putting your life in the wrong hands. Imagine the shock of an auto collision; the impact of steel and fiberglass at 25 miles per hour.
Now, imagine that your accident was a minor fender bender. The moste trusted safety feature, the airbag, deployed. And when it deployed, it exploded . Shrapnel from the sudden failure blew into your face and body.
This hypothetical story was reality for at least 160 victims in the US. That doesn’t account for many more throughout the world.
Similar explosions killed fourteen of the 160 plus injured poeple.
The Problem With Takata Airbags
Takata knew about the danger of their product since 2015. Airbag deployment test data showed that there was a likelihood of failure.
The culprit for the airbag bombs turned out to be the airbag inflators. A propellant inside the units became unstable over time, especially in certain conditions. The canister holding the propellant would become over-pressurized during inflation of the airbag. The excess pressure acted like an explosive inside a grenade. Pieces of the canister bacame projectiles, hitting the driver.
One case involved the death of a 17-year-old girl. Huma Hanif was involved in a minor crash. She should have had little to no injuries. Instead, a piece of the canister’s metal shell hit her in the neck and she bled to death at the scene.
Takata Engineers Knew About the Problem But Didn’t Fix It
The problem started in Takata’s Japan-based engineering facility. Testing on the inflators revealed up to a 50% rupture rate of the canisters. This means that the company equipped almost half of 70 million vehicles on the road with potentially fatal airbags. They were ticking time bombs.
Engineers at Takata wanted to keep the negative results from making it to the public. So, since at least the year 2000, they began manipulating their data to look more favorable.
In January of 2016, an article in the New York times revealed a long-standing deception by Takata. Emails between Japanese and U.S. Takata engineers revealed manipulated airbag testing results.
According to the article, Taketa engineer Bob Schubert admitted to changing graphics to show better results. This practice had been taking place for 16 or more years company wide. It was so widespread that Schubert referred to it as, “the way we do business in Japan.”
Takata made changes to test data before sending it to customers. This included Honda, GMC, Ford, and many more companies. As a result, the companies had no knowledge of the issue until the defect harmed accident victims.
What Vehicle Makes, Models, and Years Did the Takata Recall Affect?
When more than 70 million cars have a fatal flaw, fixing the issue takes a long time. Auto companies didn't have enough parts to take in so many vehicles at once.
The estimated timeline for recalling and repairing all the affected vehicles was 52% in 2016. Honda predicted that the rate would decline every year after that. That would come out to about 30% of the remaining vehicles repaired a decade out.
The makes and models of cars equipped with the defective inflater are as follows.
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Honda Civic GX (CNG)
- 2003-2011 Honda Civic Hybrid
- 2002-2011 Honda CR-V
- 2011-2015 Honda CR-Z
- 2003-2011 Honda Element
- Honda FCX Clarity
- Honda Fit
- Honda Insight
- 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003-2011 Honda Pilot
- 2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline
- 2010-2011 Honda Accord Crosstour
- 2003 Acura 3.2CL
- 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
- 2013-2016 Acura ILX (early ‘16 production only)
- 2003-2006 Acura MDX
- 2007-2016 Acura RDX (early ‘16 production only)
- 2005-2012 Acura RL
- 2009-2011 Acura TSX
- 2009-2014 Acura TL
- 2010-2013 Acura ZDX