Toyota Expands Defective Airbag Recall To 247,000 Additional Vehicles In High Humidity Areas

Just days after it was revealed that defective Takata-produced airbags had been linked to three deaths in the United States, Toyota Motor Corp. expanded its recall of vehicles that may employ the safety devices to include 247,000 additional cars.

Toyota, which reissued a year-old recall for the problem earlier this summer, limited the expansion to vehicles in areas like Hawaii, the Southeast, and several island territories, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The new recall includes 247,000 model year 2002-2005 Lexus SC, 2003-2005 Toyota Corolla, 2003-2005 Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe, 2002-2005 Toyota Sequoia and the 2003-2005 Toyota Tundra that were originally sold, or are currently registered in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa.

According to a notice [PDF] from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, airbags in the affected vehicles may rupture, sending metal fragments toward front-seat passengers in the event of a crash.

Officials with Toyota say the expanded recall was a result of NHTSA’s ongoing investigation into Takata-produced airbags.

“As a result of NHTSA’s investigation, Toyota and Takata have brought forward new test results that underscore the urgency for owners in high-risk areas to take immediate action,” the company said in a statement to Businessweek.

Just last week, it was announced that three deaths had been linked to the defective airbags; all three occurred in Honda vehicles.

At that time NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigations began looking into the issue in June, the agency had received three complaints concerning airbag ruptures in a 2005 Honda Civic, a 2003 Toyota Corolla and a 2005 Mazda 6.

According to NHTSA documents [PDF], regulators then received two additional reports of ruptured airbags in a 2004 Nissan Sentra and a 2006 Dodge Charger from Takata. Additionally, Toyota reported another passenger airbag rupture in a 2002 Toyota Corolla.

Investigators with NHTSA say all of the incidents occurred in the high absolute humidity climate in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Since 2008, nearly 16 million vehicles with the airbags have been recalled globally. In 2013 alone, Toyota, Honda and Nissan recalled more than 3.4 million vehicles.

As for the latest Toyota recall, officials with the company say owners of affected vehicles will be notified and a replacement airbag inflator will be installed.

Toyota Expands Takata Air-Bag Recall in Southern States [Bloomberg Businessweek]