Takata Airbag Defects Force Japan’s Car Makers to Recall Millions

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Already in the middle of one of the biggest automotive recalls, Toyota’s reputationtook a hit again this year along with Nissan to recall some 6.5 million cars. Takata, their airbag supplier, have supplied potentially fatal airbag inflators.

CarHonda and Daihatsu also have to recall 5 million of their products because of the same reason. Investigations showed that the airbag inflators are not properly sealed and are susceptible to moisture, leading to the airbag erupting with too much force and spray shrapnel from inside the car.

The latter two have bore the brunt of the damage. Since 2008, Honda and Daihatsu have recalled roughly 36 million cars all because of Takata airbag inflators. Now, Toyota’s pristine reputation isgoing through a rough patch because of this current issue.

Takata Corp. has not come unscathed from the failures, with their trading 5 percent down from 11 percent all coming from a 17-week high. They are also facing several class-action lawsuits in US and Canada, as well as a US criminal investigation and a regulatory probe.

In the past, Ford and General Motors also had to recall 21 million and 30 million vehicles respectively because of Takata-linked defects. For Ford, it occurred in the 1980s for a parking gear problem. As for GM, it was just last year when their products had a host of faults, including faulty ignition switches.

NHTSA has released a statement that reads:

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received notification from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota that they are conducting limited regional recalls to address a possible safety defect involving Takata brand air bag inflators.

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“Today’s action is influenced by a NHTSA investigation into six reports of air bag inflator ruptures, all of which occurred in Florida and Puerto Rico.

“Based on the limited data available at this time, NHTSA supports efforts by automakers to address the immediate risk in areas that have consistently hot, humid conditions over extended periods of time.

Consumers impacted by the recalls should have their vehicles serviced promptly once they receive notification from their vehicle manufacturer. NHTSA remains in close communication with the supplier and automakers to gather additional data and will take appropriate action based on our findings.”

George R. Neff, president of IsoVac Engineering, said in an interview that some of Takata’s prototypes back in the early 2000s are already leaking. He stated, “We found a lot of leakers,” while adding, “I told them that I thought their leak-test methods were crude.” “In a period of a year or two years or certainly five years, those devices could reach 100 percent equilibrium with the environment around them.”

The company said last week it expects to return to profit in the business year started in April that even though it has made few provisions for costs related to the massive global recall.