On April 13, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Takata will be ordered to replace another 85 million airbag inflators inside U.S. vehicles if the Japanese company cannot prove they are safe. Takata has already recalled 28.8 million inflators across the nation, including in Oklahoma. The recall is the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
Takata inflators have been linked to at least 11 deaths and over 100 injuries worldwide. The company uses ammonium nitrate to trigger the expansion of the airbags, but the chemical can burn too quickly and cause an explosion, hurling shrapnel throughout a vehicle's passenger cabin. The problem is worse in older cars and trucks that have been exposed to high humidity for long periods of time, and earlier recalls have concentrated on high-risk areas like the U.S. Gulf Coast. However, it is not known if or when airbag inflators in cooler, drier climates may also fail.
The NHTSA told Takata that it must prove the remaining inflators are safe by the end of 2018 or issue another recall. The company has also agreed not to sign new contracts to manufacturer the problematic inflators and to stop making them by the end of 2018. Takata makes another type of ammonium nitrate inflator with a drying agent that is supposed to prevent failure and explosions. The company has until the end of 2019 to prove that those inflators are safe.
Oklahoma residents who have been harmed by a defective auto part, such as a faulty airbag inflator, may benefit by speaking to an attorney. It may be possible to file an auto product liability lawsuit against the responsible manufacturer seeking compensation for medical expenses and other related damages.
Source: Claims Journal, "Auto Safety Agency Counts 85M Unrecalled Takata Inflators in U.S.," Tom Krisher, April 18, 2016