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U.S. Senators Urge Takata to Recall All Air Bags

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Takata air bags have been linked with at least eight deaths and over 100 injuries, yet the company has been slow to recall vehicles to make repairs. They limited their recalls to regional areas that were associated with high temperatures and high absolute humidities until recently.

In June 2015, the company announced they were finally expanding its recalls to all 50 states. U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Ed Markey (Massachusetts), don’t feel that’s enough, however. They recently sent a letter to Takata requesting the company recall all vehicles with its airbags in them, until they find more answers about what’s causing the problems.

Some Takata Air Bags Explode

At issue is the fact that some of the Takata air bags can explode upon deployment. When this happens, the bag shoots small pieces of metal and plastic into the interior of the vehicle, potentially injuring occupants. Victims often suffer “knife-like” wounds, vision and hearing loss, and excessive bleeding that can lead to death.

Why some of these air bags explode while most do not apparently continues to be a mystery. Takata’s own internal tests so far have indicated that high temperatures and high humidities, when combined with an older air bag inflator that may have cracks in it because of manufacturing defects, are likely to contribute to an explosion. This is why apparently for the longest time, Takata limited their recalls to more tropical areas like Florida and Puerto Rico.

Questions Surround the Chemical Used in Replacement Air Bags

Employees that used to work for the company, however, have raised concerns about the chemical Takata uses in their air bag inflators: ammonium nitrate. Takata switched to this chemical in 2001, and some engineers were worried then that ammonium nitrate was too volatile. Fiat Chrysler has stated they will not use Takata air bags as replacements to recalled air bags for that reason.

Congress has also continued to raise concerns about the chemical, urging Takata to provide evidence that it is safe. Takata has responded by announcing a new “testing plan” for the replacement kit inflators, though they haven’t released the details of this plan to the public.

New Incident Calls Takata Air Bag Replacements Into Question

In the senators’ letter, the gentlemen requested that Takata step up their efforts to recall potentially defective air bags until they find exactly what is causing the explosions. They note that the most recent accident involving a defective air bag did not occur in a region previously identified as high humidity, and also involved a newer model vehicle that has not been the subject of recalls.

They add that this latest air bag explosion involves a side air bag—the first to be associated with an explosion. The senators write: “This directly undercuts Takata’s continued insistence—despite growing evidence to the contrary—that the flaws in its airbag inflators are limited to prior design in older model cars and only present when the airbags have prolonged exposure to extremely humid conditions.”

Considering all this, the senators strongly urge Takata to make public their testing plan, and to continue to inform the public of their findings on an ongoing basis.

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  1. Mardy Shepherd says:
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    All Takata cares about is their precious “BOTTOM LINE”. They have no regard for the people they have murdered and mutilated! They are a disgusting, dispicible company that should be put out of business!