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Major Auto Makers Taking Takata to Task Over Defective Airbags

Major automakers are taking Takata to task for defective airbags by launching their own independent investigation.

Major automakers are taking Takata to task for defective airbags by launching their own independent investigation. Multiple major players in the automotive industry recently met in Detroit, revving up a collaborative effort to take Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata to task over fatal defects in their products. Representatives from at least seven auto makers including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru convened to discuss hiring a third-party engineering firm to investigate issues with the faulty airbags that thus far have been linked to five deaths and scores of injuries nationwide.

At the time of this writing, more than 20 million vehicles outfitted with Takata-made airbags have been recalled, and more than half of those affected are registered to owners here in the United States. In multiple incidents, the airbags ruptured, sending sharp-edged shrapnel flying throughout a vehicle’s cabin. This inflicted serious and even fatal stab-like wounds in drivers’ face, neck and chest areas. At the center of the issue are suspicions that the ruptures were caused by a switch to a chemical compound known as ammonium nitrate used in airbag inflators.

Though it costs more than the chemical agent used in older airbags, ammonium nitrate allowed for the manufacture of smaller, more lightweight airbags. Unfortunately, it appears that it may also be causing airbags to inflate too powerfully, essentially turning components of the airbag casing into dangerous shrapnel. Multiple investigations by various agencies suggest that Takata knew of the issue for upward of a decade and deliberately hid the truth from regulators and customers. Now, more recent research also suggests that Honda also was aware of the problem long before the recalls and may even have sent employees to inspect a Takata manufacturing plant in Mexico. More than half of the recalled cars in the US – 8.7 million of 13 million – are Hondas.

The faulty airbag issue has triggered multiple Senate hearings and an investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and some lawmakers are demanding criminal charges be levied should investigations prove a deliberate cover up. If you own one of the vehicles affected in the recall and have suffered no injuries as a result of the defect, take it to your nearest dealership for a free-of-charge repair. However, if you or members of your family have sustained airbag-related injuries, get medical treatment immediately and keep the airbag intact, as it may be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Contact Harrell and Harrell, serving Northeast and Central Florida as well as South Georgia, at 800-251-1111.