Regulators Speeding Up Takata Recall, Update List Of Affected Vehicles

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When federal regulators took over the messy Takata airbag recall in May 2015, they provided a timeline in which carmakers were to have shrapnel-shooting safety devices replaced. With more than 42 million vehicles having potentially dangerous airbags in their dashboards and steering wheels, the campaign was bound to take some time. But it’s not progressing enough, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it moves to speed up the process by providing a replacement schedule and more complete list of affected vehicles. 

NHTSA on Friday issued an amended order to accelerate the recall repairs for millions of affected vehicles, requiring when carmakers must have replacement parts available and setting completion deadlines.

The order [PDF], issued to Takata and the 19 automakers affected by the defective devices, requires replacement parts to be obtained on an accelerated basis and made available first to the riskiest vehicles — those that are older and have been in hot, humid climates.

As part of Friday’s announcement the agency updated the list of affected vehicles, which now touches nearly all major automakers and includes the Tesla Model S.

Under the order, once automakers have obtained enough parts to begin repairs, they are required to notify NHTSA and begin a coordinated “consumer messaging” process as deemed appropriate by the regulator.

The order, which builds on the Nov. 2015 order that created three phases in which the vehicles were to be fixed, is NHTSA’s latest effort to ensure that 100% of affected vehicles are repaired.

As of Dec. 2, automakers reported they have so far repaired approximately 12.5 million inflators, NHTSA says. To date, the affected vehicles have been linked to 184 injuries and 11 deaths.

“NHTSA is doing everything possible to make sure that there are no more preventable injuries or deaths because of these dangerous air bag inflators,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “All vehicle owners should regularly check their vehicles for recalls at SaferCar.gov and go get them fixed at no cost as soon as replacement parts are available.”

The regulator claims that by setting the remedy schedule, it is ensuring that vehicles with defective air bag inflators are recalled and have replacement parts available before they present a significant risk to vehicle occupants.

Lawmakers were quick to applaud the agency for taking steps to accelerate the repairs of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags.

Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) said he was glad the agency took action, but likened the repair timeline as “snail’s paced.”

“But the fact remains that a number of these dangerous airbags won’t be replaced until the next decade,” Nelson said. “Drivers should not have to wait that long to get what could be a ticking time bomb out of their cars.”