It seems like the Takata airbag saga is still far from over.
There have been some big automotive recalls in recent years, but one just refuses to go away. The Takata-manufactured airbag defects have been well documented - in a nutshell, faulty inflators can explode with too much force causing serious injuries and even death to vehicle occupants. In a normal recall, the affected vehicles would be repaired by dealers and that would be that.
The Takata airbags, however, were installed by so many manufacturers that the recalls seem to be never-ending. Now, the Associated Press has reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has just announced a recall for 1.6-million vehicles, 1.4-million of which are in the US, that need their airbags repaired.
The recall covers the 2010-2016 Jeep Wrangler SUV, the 2010 Ram 3500 pickup and 4500/5500 Chassis Cab trucks, the 2010 and 2011 Dodge Dakota pickup, the 2010-2014 Dodge Challenger, the 2011-2015 Dodge Charger sedan, and the 2010-2015 Chrysler 300 sedan. Owners will be notified by letter and dealers will replace the inflators with safe ones.
FCA is not aware of any injuries in vehicles involved in this recall, but it has a large stock of replacement parts and is urging motorists to get their airbags repaired as soon as possible. "Recall service is free, we have replacement parts and dealers are ready to help," Mark Chernoby, FCA's head of safety for North America, said in a statement.
If you own one of these vehicles or would like to see whether your car is affected by an existing recall, then head on over to airbagrecall.com to check. Ford, BMW, Toyota, and Honda also have vehicles with the same issue so don't think that you are safe as this is definitely not limited to FCA products.
The chemical that Takata used to create the micro explosion required to inflate the airbags tends to deteriorate in areas with high humidity and large variations between hot and cold temperatures, so it's even more important that you check out the website if you live in such an area, the Gulf of Mexico is apparently has a very high concentration of faulty airbags.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who manage the Takata recalls in the US, have stated that a third of the total 50 million recalled inflators have still not been replaced. That means that almost 17 million cars are still out there with faulty airbags that have already caused almost two dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.
If you are wondering what has become of the Takata company, they have declared bankruptcy and have sold off most of their assets to try and pay for the repairs. That won't be much solace to those who have already suffered from an airbag failure but at least this is not another case of the wrongdoers getting off without any penalties.