Deadly Airbag Recall Expected To Grow By Up To 35 Million This Week

Image courtesy of Samuel M. Livingston

Takata’s massive airbag inflator recall could more than double this week, as U.S. safety regulators are reportedly poised to announced the addition of 35 million safety devices to the recall list that already includes 28 million shrapnel-shooting airbags. 

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is poised to recall the additional airbags after deeming them a safety risk.

Sources say the regulator and Takata were still in discussions on the expanded recall on Tuesday, but that a decision and announcement could come before the end of the week.

The airbag inflators are built with the chemical propellant ammonium nitrate, which can become volatile if exposed to water or humid conditions. If this occurs, the safety devices have been found to explode with enough force to send shrapnel from the inflator canister shooting at drivers and passengers. So far, the devices have been linked to nine deaths in the U.S., 10 worldwide, and hundreds of injuries.

It’s unclear how many vehicles will be affected by the expanded recall, as some cars have more than one inflator, and not all inflators are made by the same manufacturer.

The decision to add more airbag inflators to the robust recall list comes, the WSJ reports, after regulators studied three separate investigations by Takata, a group of 10 automakers, and Honda — the company most affected by the airbag issues.

Regulators are “reviewing the findings of three separate investigations into the Takata air-bag ruptures,” a NHTSA spokesman tells the WSJ. “The recall of Takata airbag inflators covered by the NHTSA Consent Order continues and the agency will take all appropriate actions to make sure air bags in Americans’ vehicles are safe.”

A rep for Takata says the parts maker is working with regulators and customers to develop “long-term, orderly solutions to these important safety issues.”

While the increased recall would bring the total number of affected inflators to close to 100 million devices, sources say that figure doesn’t include all Takata airbags that employ ammonium nitrate currently on U.S. roads, a move that lawmakers and safety groups have pushed for.

Ammonium nitrate was previously determined to be one of three root causes for the violent ruptures. The other two factors include exposure to moisture and construction issues.

The company contends that many of its newer inflators include a drying agent that can prevent the rupture issue. However, NHTSA has given Takata until the end of 2019 to prove that inflators with the dessicant — a drying agent — are safe.

Takata Set to Recall 35 Million More Air-Bag Inflaters [The Wall Street Journal]

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