Recall Alert: 12 Million Airbags Still Need to Be Fixed

Mention the name Takata, and many people immediately think of airbags. That is because Takata was one of the largest airbag manufacturers in the world. It is their airbags that are typically associated with a recall for flying shrapnel once they are deployed. Some of those incidents have caused deaths. But, new information indicates the recall is not sufficient.

The red and black Takata logo on the side of a building in Japan
Takata logo on the side of a building in Japan | STR/AFP via Getty Images

Twelve million airbags may not be the totality of the problem

According to calculations by Jerry Cox, author of the book, “Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know,” there are still 12 million airbags that still have not been fixed in relation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall. But, he fears that number does not tell the true story. He says, “…there are 30 million cars out there that have them but have never been recalled.”

Takata airbags have been used by most automakers. Nearly 63 million of the faulty airbags were installed originally and are associated with the recall. The shrapnel from the deployment of the faulty airbags has caused injuries and even deaths. A string of airbag-related recalls began as far back as 2013. You can check your vehicle for recalls here.

A steering wheel igniter is shown in the center of a steering wheel.
An airbag igniter is built into a steering wheel for a car at the Takata Ignition Systems Gmbh factory | Jens Wolf/picture alliance via Getty Images

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The original fix is not good enough

Mr. Cox also fears that replacing the airbags with different Takata airbags, ones that have a desiccant in them to keep moisture away, is not fixing the problem. According to our friends at Autoblog, Mr. Cox claims that engineers were never asked by the government if the new airbags would resolve the problem. He seems to think that if they were asked, every one of the engineers would have said the current fix only delays problems, it does not fix them. 

In an interview for a news report on KTLA in California, Mr. Cox also alleges that Takata was aware of the problems with the airbags and has knowingly replaced them with similarly defective airbags. Further, he indicates that a coverup by Takata and even the United States government was allegedly orchestrated. You can see that interview here.

A police officer can be seen through the window of a car that has had two front airbags depoloyed.
Two airbags deployed in the front of the cabin of a car | Getty images

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Like hand grenades waiting to go off

Mr. Cox was also recently interviewed for another television news report on the airbag situation. This one was on WJLA in Washington DC. In the segment, he indicated 6 million of the 12 million that need to be replaced are in the, do not drive, category. He likened those to hand grenades that have had the pin pulled and are waiting to go off. You can see that interview here.

How dangerous is a defective airbag deployment?

Mr. Cox does not leave any ambiguity regarding the possible dangers of the 12 million airbags awaiting to be fixed. He does not hold back, saying that if one of the defective airbags deploys, the likelihood is that a person could have their “faces rearranged”, or “have their head blown off.” The danger is real. 

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Vehicles that have changed hands several times complicate recalls

He is especially concerned with the older vehicles in the recall because the likelihood of reaching the owner of a vehicle that has changed hands several times is low. Also, many times the recall notices reached owners with a language barrier that may not have easily understood the notice. So, this contributes to the difficulty of fixing the problem. 

Recalls are always a pain. On one side, the manufacturer has to face public shame. On another side, the consumer’s life is disrupted by trying to schedule a fix. Yet, still on another side, some people are being injured, or even dying as a result of a faulty part, in this case, airbags. But, as annoying as recalls are, it is important to get them taken care of right away. Safety hazards are not to be taken lightly, and any coverup allegations should be investigated to ensure the public trust. So, sadly, it looks like the airbag saga will continue for a while. A lot of investigating still needs to be done.