Takata Airbag Recall FAQ For Car Owners

At Takata, automakers and regulators attempt to unravel the facts behind the massive Takata airbag recall, one thing is clear: it is complicated. While the major players try to figure out where the fault lies and what the remedies should be, the average car owner is wondering what it means for them.

Alan’s Collision Center in NE Philadelphia is an auto body repair business since 1975. For 40 years, the I-CAR Gold trained technicians and professionals have installed preferred OEM parts that include airbags in vehicles after collision. As the Takata airbag recall continues to unfold, we will update you here and provide airbag recall FAQ for consumers.

Here is the first installment to help you sort out the important information.

Airbag Recall FAQ

Who is Takata?

Takata Corporation, headquartered in Japan, is an independent supplier of automotive safety components and systems for leading automakers in Europe, Asia and the Americas. With 46 plants in 17 countries, Takata manufactures motor vehicle seat belts, airbags, steering wheels and child safety restraints.

Why are Takata airbags being recalled?

Some of Takata manufactured airbags have a flaw that causes metal shards to erupt when deployed in a crash, causing serious injury and death. So far 139 injuries and eight deaths  have been linked to the faulty airbags. In May, Takata announced a recall of certain types of driver and passenger airbag inflators.

What is causing the airbags to malfunction?

While investigations are still underway, the root problem appears to be with the airbag inflator. In a crash, it can ignite with explosive force causing the inflator housing to rupture and spray metal shrapnel into the passenger cabin.

Takata, automakers and independent investigators are having difficulty identifying a sole cause for the malfunctions. There appear to be multiple causes and contributing factors, including poor quality manufacturing, automobile design and long term exposure to heat and moisture. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the suspect inflator has 10 different configurations used in multiple model cars.

How long has this been a problem?

Takata first became aware of safety issues related to its airbag inflators in the first half of 2007. In November, 2008 it issued its first recall. Additional recalls followed as the problem was magnified.
Takata announced additional airbag faults in six auto makes in April, 2013. Then in October, 2014, it issued another major recall affecting more vehicles across several brands. In May of this year, Takata announced the inflator defect potentially affects 34 million airbags in the U.S., which is leading to more recalls. The Takata airbag recall could become the largest product recall in U.S. history.

Does this mean 34 million cars will be recalled?

No. Here is where the scope of the recall gets complex. Takata has recalled 34 million airbag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculated the total from 17.6 million driver-side inflators and 16.2 million passenger-side inflators. Some cars have been recalled for both. But until the NHTSA gets filings from the automakers, the actual number of cars affected is not known for certain.

How do I know if my car is affected by the airbag recall?

So far 11 automakers have been hit by the Takata airbag recall, including BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. Most of the vehicles are in model years 2002-2008, but some have been added from 2014. Specific model years are being still being determined. Not every car in a listed model year is actually under recall. The best way to find out if your car is affected by the recall is to check the NHTSA website. There you will find a lookup tool to search all vehicle identification numbers (VINs) of known recalled vehicles.