The Automobile Club of Southern California is alerting motorists that the recall of potentially deadly airbags has been expanded to include 34 million vehicles in the U.S.
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced this week that the air bag manufacturer Takata has acknowledged that a defect exists in its air bag inflators. The Takata recall is the largest consumer recall ever in the U.S. topping the 1982 Tylenol bottle recall of 31 million.
At least six people have been killed by the air bags, and dozens more have been injured. The initial recall covered 16 million vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and BMW.
AAA said in a statement that it “supports the over-due announcement that Takata has agreed to a national recall of driver and passenger side air bag inflators. Since late last year AAA has fully supported NHTSA’s call for a national recall of affected Takata air bags beyond the limited high-humidity areas where the recall has focused until today.
“As an advocate for motorists, AAA believes this recall is a step in the right direction to ensure motorist safety on America’s roadways. Vehicles are increasingly bought and sold across state lines and may move long distances across the country so AAA believes that it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states.”
In addition, NHTSA has also announced that it will begin a formal legal process to prioritize the replacement of defective Takata inflators.
“It will take time for this recall to be ramped up and ultimately finished,” said AAA Approved Auto Repair Program Manager Dave Skaien. “When there’s a recall of 34 million cars, the parts cannot be produced quickly. Takata and others must still produce airbags for new vehicle production all over the globe.
“Producing millions of units in addition to the current capacity will not happen as quickly as all would like,” Skaien added. “And distribution and installation of these new units are secondary issues that will also need to be dealt with.”
NHTSA said it anticipates that vehicle repairs will be prioritized based on risk taking into account the age and geographic location of vehicles.
NHTSA has created a new web site, www.SaferCar.gov/RecallSpotlight-, to provide motorists with regular updates on the status of this particular recall and others.
Tests by auto manufacturers, independent researchers and Takata have not conclusively determined the cause of the inflator defect, according to NHTSA. Preliminary analysis of test results points to moisture seeping into the defective inflators over an extended time.
Recalls are utilized when a vehicle or item of vehicle equipment doesn’t comply with a federal motor vehicle safety standard. A recall also occurs when there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.
“If there’s a safety recall for your vehicle, contact your local dealer and have the repair completed as soon as possible and remember to ask if you you’re entitled to a rental car while the repairs are conducted,” said Steve Mazor, principal automotive engineer of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “A copy of the work should be kept for your repair records.”
Owners who move should notify the vehicle manufacturer by using a post card many provide in the warranty booklet or by giving the dealer the new address so notices and other information can be sent to the new home, Mazor added.
How should consumers determine if a safety recall has been issued for their car or truck? The Auto Club advises motorists to:
- Watch the mail. Mailed recall notices are now easier to identify. NHTSA requires all manufacturers use a distinctive label on mailings that notify owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. The label says “Important Safety Recall Information” in red and black, along with the phrase “Issued in Accordance with Federal Law,” and U.S. Dept. of Transportation and NHTSA logos.
- Download a free app. The SaferCar app is available for Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and helps consumers find recall information and up-to-date vehicle safety information, search the agency’s 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls, among other features.
- Go online. At SaferCar.gov, consumers can now go to a dedicated recall web site for the latest information. Consumers should check back and look at the site because more vehicles may be added to the recall list.
Safety recall repairs are paid for by the manufacturer, regardless of warranty considerations, Mazor said, and manufacturers may voluntarily issue their own safety recalls after notifying NHTSA.