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Takata Airbags Recall: The Biggest Recall in the Automobile Industry


The automobile industry is facing the biggest ever recall concerning faulty airbags. The issue affects over 25 automotive brands all over the world but the U.S. being the biggest automobile market is the worst hit.  The airbags were supplied by Takata, a Japanese company that produces airbags, seatbelts and other safety gadgets for vehicles. The faulty Takata airbags have been linked to 11 deaths and over 100 injuries across the world. The airbags have a defective inflator and their propellant devices don’t deploy as they should in the event of a crash. They shoot metal fragments into the cabin causing injuries to occupants.

Though the issue can be traced to 2002, it is only in 2013 that it came to the limelight and affected 6 automakers. However, the issue has widened to involve over 25 brands from different automakers. Takata has also gone ahead to admit that it has no clue as to which vehicles were installed with the defective airbags or the root cause of the defects. However, it has been observed that the problem with the airbags occur mostly in areas with high humidity with Hawaii, Florida and U.S. Virgin Islands being the most affected in the U.S.A.

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When the issue first emerged, Takata claimed that propellant chemicals were not properly handled during assembly which caused metal used in the airbags to burst open due to excessive pressure when a vehicle was involved in a crash.  Analysts, however, observe that the problem might have started a long time ago and that the manufacturer was in the know having had allowed a defective limit that was over 6 times the acceptable limits in its Mexico factory in 2002.  They allowed around 70 defective parts for every 1 million airbag inflators shipped out of the factory.

Takata Airbags Recall -The real problem

In February, a group of 10 automakers hired the Orbital ATK Company, a firm that is engaged in rocket propulsion systems to conduct a test on the Takata airbags. The company concluded that three factors were involved. They discovered that the use of ammonium nitrate combined with the construction of the inflator assembly and exposure to heat and humidity made the inflators susceptible to rupture. When they rapture, metal shards from the airbags are sprayed in the cabin causing injuries and in some cases death instead of acting as the life savers they are.

They discovered that the use of ammonium nitrate combined with the construction of the inflator assembly and exposure to heat and humidity made the inflators susceptible to rupture. When they rapture, metal shards from the airbags are sprayed in the cabin causing injuries and in some cases death instead of acting as the life savers they are.

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The financial implication

Takata has been heavily hit by the recalls. Earlier this week, the manufacturer announced a net loss of 13.1 billion Yen equivalent to $ 120.5 million for its financial year which ended in March. Already, the US regulators have slapped the company with a fine of up to $200 million.

However, the actual financial implication is not yet known as recalls are set to increase in the coming months. The recalls could hit over 100 million in the US only. Already 28.8 million have already been recalled and the U.S. safety regulators added an extra 35 to 40 million recalls earlier this month. The recall process will be conducted in five phases which will start this May and end in December 2019 according to NHTSA. It remains unclear how many more vehicles will be affected. The issue has seen the company’s stocks value drop by over 80% since 2014.

In addition, the company is set to experience hard times ahead as Mazda, Toyota, Honda and Ford are set to stop using similar airbags in their future vehicles. This coupled with the ever increasing lawsuits the company is facing will surely inflate more financial harm. Analysts observe that since airbags with ammonium nitrate exceed 280 million units, the total cost of recalling all of them could exceed $24 billion, a figure that might cripple the company for good.

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Affected vehicles

There is a long list of affected vehicles and the model years affected. As such, it is important you consult your local dealer to find out if your car is one of them. However, here is a list of some of the cars that are affected.

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Note: This list is not conclusive hence the need to visit your dealer for more information:

Acura: 2002–2003, 2009–2014 TL; 2003 CL; 2003–2006 MDX; 2005–2012 Acura RL; 2007–2016 RDX; 2010–2013 ZDX; 2013–2016 ILX

Audi (approximately 170,000): 2006–2013 A3; 2006–2009 A4 cabriolet; 2009–2012 Q5; 2010–2011 A5 cabriolet; 2015 Q5

BMW (approximately 1,605,000): 2000–2011 3-series sedan; 2000–2012 3-series wagon; 2002–2013 3-series coupe and convertible; 2001–2013 M3 coupe and convertible; 2002–2003 5-series and M5; 2003–2004, 2007–2013 X5; 2007–2010 X3; 2008–2013 1-series coupe and convertible; 2008–2011 M3 sedan; 2008–2014 X6; 2013–2015 X1

Buick: 2015 LaCrosse

Cadillac: 2015 XTS

Chevrolet (510,454, including Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Saab, and Saturn): 2007–2008 Chevrolet Silverado HD; 2015 Camaro, Equinox, Malibu

Chrysler2005–2010 Chrysler 300; 2006–2007 Crossfire; 2007–2008 Aspen

Daimler: 2006–2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500 and 3500; 2007–2014 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 and 3500

Dodge/Ram (approximately 5.64 million, including Chrysler, not including Daimler-built Sprinter): 2003–2008 Dodge Ram 1500; 2005–2010 Charger and Magnum; 2005–2011 Dakota; 2004–2008 Durango; 2003–2009 Ram 2500 and 3500; 2008–2010 Challenger, Ram 4500, and Ram 5500

Ford (1,509,535): 2004–2006 Ranger; 2005–2006 GT; 2005–2014 Mustang

GMC: 2007–2008 GMC Sierra HD; 2015 Terrain

Honda (approximately 8.51 million, including Acura): 2001–2007 Accord (four-cylinder); 2001–2002 Accord (V-6); 2001–2005 Civic; 2002–2011, 2016 CR-V; 2002–2004 Odyssey; 2003–2005 Civic Hybrid; 2003–2011 Element; 2003–2008 Pilot; 2006–2014 Ridgeline; 2009–2014 Fit; 2010–2014 FCX Clarity; 2010–2014 Insight; 2011–2015 CR-Z

Infiniti: 2001–2004 Infiniti I30/I35; 2002–2003 Infiniti QX4; 2003–2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45; 2006 Infiniti M35/M45

Lexus: 2002–2010 SC430

Mazda (approximately 500,000): 2003–2008 Mazda 6; 2006–2007 Mazdaspeed 6; 2004–2008 Mazda RX-8; 2004 MPV; 2004–2006 B-series

Mercedes-Benz (approximately 847,627, including Daimler): 2005–2011 C-class (excluding C55 AMG but including 2009–2011 C63 AMG); 2007–2008 SLK-class; 2007–2014 Sprinter; 2009–2012 GL-class; 2009–2011 M-class, 2009–2012 R-class; 2010–2011 E-class sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible; 2010–2012 GLK-class; 2011–2014 SLS AMG coupe and roadster

Mitsubishi (104,994): 2004–2006 Lancer and Lancer Evolution; 2006–2009 Raider

Nissan (approximately 1,091,000, including Infiniti): 2001–2003 Maxima; 2002–2004 Pathfinder; 2002–2006 Nissan Sentra

Pontiac (approximately 300,000): 2003–2007 Vibe

Saab: 2003–2011 9-3; 2005 9-2X; 2010–2011 9-5

Saturn: 2008–2009 Astra

Subaru (approximately 80,000): 2003–2005 Baja, Legacy, Outback; 2004–2005 Impreza, Impreza WRX, Impreza WRX STI

Toyota (approximately 3,113,000, including Lexus): 2002–2007 Toyota Sequoia; 2003–2008 Corolla and Corolla Matrix; 2003–2006 Tundra; 2004–2005 RAV4

Volkswagen (680,000): 2006–2010, 2012–2014 Passat; 2009–2014 CC; 2010–2014 Jetta SportWagon and Golf; 2012–2014 Eos; 2015 Tiguan

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To see if your vehicle is among those affected, NHTSA has created an online resource to help affected consumers. Enter your VIN number at this website: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/ to see if your vehicle is among those affected.

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