Consumers worried that they may be driving around with what some have likened to an explosive device in their steering wheel and dashboard can breathe a small sigh of relief, as federal regulators say all 33.8 million vehicles equipped with potential shrapnel-shooting Takata airbags have been identified.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has begun work to add millions of new vehicles to a searchable database where consumers can determine if their cars are in need of replacement airbags, the Detroit News reports.
For the past month 11 automakers have scrambled to pinpoint millions of vehicles that include Takata safety devices linked to at least seven deaths and more than 100 injuries, after the Japanese parts maker declared nearly 34 million airbags defective.
While about 17 million of the 33.8 million vehicles with the airbags had already been part of recalls by major automakers, millions of others had yet to be identified.
NHTSA said the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) of the newly recalled vehicles will be added to its searchable database.
Consumers looking to see if their vehicles are part of the largest auto recall in history can check by entering their 17 digit VIN on SaferCar.gov, which will return a list of all recalls associated with a particular vehicle. The site also functions to provide regular updates on the status of this and other recalls of high interest.
“An informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tells the Detroit News. “NHTSA’s VIN search tool at safercar.gov makes it easy for consumers to check if their vehicle is affected by the recall, and to take action in getting the air bags replaced.”
Those who find their vehicles are part of the Takata recall will likely have to wait several weeks or months before repairs are available.
That’s because Takata has struggled in recent months to meet demands for replacement parts. The company recently announced it would increase its output of new parts to one million per month later this year.
But even if those consumers do receive new airbags promptly, there’s still no guarantee those replacement safety devices are safe, as Takata, regulators and manufacturers have yet to identify what has caused the defect.
In fact late last month, Takata confirmed that more than 400,000 vehicles that have been fixed through previous airbag recalls will have to undergo a second replacement.
NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind tells the Detroit News that the agency is working to “organize and prioritize the replacement of the defective air bag inflators to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible.”
U.S.: All vehicles with recalled air bags identified [The Detroit News]