The Takata airbag scandal continues unabated.
The airbag-related death of a 2006 Ford Ranger driver has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue an urgent warning to motorists who own vehicles with Takata airbags.
The government agency has urged all vehicle owners to check if their cars have an open Takata airbag recall. "We need everyone to check right now for open Takata recalls - and if you have one, to schedule an appointment at your dealership immediately for a repair," said the NHTSA's Ann Carlson.
"Every day that passes when you don't get a recalled airbag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death. Don't let an open recall cost you or your passengers your lives."
It is imperative to check if there are any outstanding recalls on any car you buy, but particularly if it is a few years old.
The Ford Ranger in question was already placed under a "do not drive" warning from the NHTSA. One may wonder why the owner wasn't notified of the recall, but it's not always easy to alert individuals of a problem with the vehicle.
According to a report from Reuters, Ford had sent more than 100 recall notices to this specific owner's home and, aside from text messages, also sent a representative to the home to schedule a repair for the affected vehicle. The automaker says it has a 97% completion rate on this specific repair.
"We are urging all remaining affected owners not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford to schedule a free repair," said one company spokesperson.
In 2019, the driver of a Honda Civic was killed in equally tragic circumstances. The vehicle had been under recall for nearly five years at the time of the accident, and Honda had notified previous owners of the vehicle no fewer than 21 times. Sadly, the victim of this accident had purchased the vehicle three months prior, and Honda was not aware of the ownership change.
According to the NHTSA, older vehicles place passengers at higher risk, as the age of the airbag is a contributing factor, which further reinforces how critical it is to ensure that recalls are dealt with, particularly when they concern safety features.
The Takata airbag scandal is one of the biggest to rock the automotive industry, with more than 65 million vehicles estimated to be part of the worldwide recall. Myriad automakers, including boutique brands like Ferrari, have been embroiled in this long-lasting dilemma.
The now-defunct company was forced to pay a $1 billion settlement, comprised of $800 million in compensation to automakers, $125 million to help victims and their families, and a $20 million fine. Shockingly, the company knew of the defective airbags and failed to disclose the information for a decade. One document read, "the practice has gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud."
If you fear your vehicle may be affected, contact the NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.