NHTSA Urges Owners Of Vehicles With Defective Airbags To Get Them Fixed, Even Though No Parts Are Available

Federal safety regulators are asking millions of vehicle owners to immediately fix their defective airbags, but it may do little to actually remedy the problem. With more than 14 million cars equipped with faulty Takata airbags, car manufacturers say they don’t have enough replacement parts on hand, meaning consumers consumers will have to wait and decide for themselves whether they want to keep driving affected vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released an urgent consumer advisory Monday to the owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.

The advisory singled out owners of vehicles in high humidity regions including Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

David J. Friedman, deputy administrator for NHTSA, tells the New York Times that the agency issued the unusual advisory to make sure everyone is engaged and getting their vehicles fixed to protect themselves and their families.

While the warning may serve that purpose, it also may prove confusing for some consumers who have found their vehicle’s manufacturer isn’t prepared to fix the issue.

The New York Times reports that many of the car manufacturers listed on the NHTSA notice don’t have parts available to service the vehicles.

Honda officials have said they did not have enough parts to fix the 2.8 million recalled cars immediately and that there was no firm idea of when the fixes would be completed.

Instead, the company is sending out recall notifications only as they become available, with priority being reserved for areas of high humidity, where the airbags are though to be more susceptible to exploding.

Of the 11 manufacturers with vehicles recalled because of the Takata issue, Honda has perhaps been the hardest hit.

At least three deaths have been linked to defective airbags in Honda vehicles and the company recently announcing it would begin an audit of potential inaccuracies in providing information about early warning issues to regulators.

A consumer safety group said last week that those possible inaccuracies have hampered regulators ability to spot safety defects, which in turn can leave potentially dangerous vehicles on the roadways.

Officials with Toyota, which expanded its recall of vehicles with Takata airbags yesterday, say the company would in some cases disable the air bags, leaving a note not to ride in the front passenger seat.

The company has urged owners of about 247,000 vehicles in high humidity areas to make special efforts to get their cars fixed.

Officials with NHTSA tell the Times they plan to continually update Monday’s consumer advisory to include additional manufacturers and vehicles equipped with the defective safety devices.

It Looked Like a Stabbing, but Takata Air Bag Was the Killer [The New York Times]