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Congress Demands Action on Takata Recalls as NHTSA Flubs Response

Posted on Monday, October 27th, 2014   

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s attempts to persuade consumers to immediately respond to the exploding Takata airbag recalls backfired, as the agency’s website was full of mis-information and partially inoperable. Acting Administrator David Friedman affirmed Toyota’s plan to disable defective airbags until replacements could be installed, reasoning that an airbag inflator that could rupture was already broken, drawing a sharp response from several members of Congress.

U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a blistering letter to the agency, pointing out that disabling an airbag is prohibited by federal law.

We are alarmed and astonished that NHTSA has endorsed a policy recently announced by Toyota and GM that dealers should disable passenger-side airbags and instruct against permitting passengers in the front seat if replacement parts for these airbags are unavailable. As a matter of policy, this step is extraordinarily troubling and potentially dangerous. As a matter of law, as you are aware, §30122(b) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 U.S.C.) prohibits a manufacturer from knowingly making a safety device inoperative unless the Secretary issues a specific exemption. We are unaware of an exemption from your office in the case of Takata airbags. We are also unaware of any risk assessment or other analysis conducted by NHTSA or automobile manufacturers showing that more lives would be saved than lost by disabling these air bags. Lastly, we are unaware of any information distinguishing the safety threats posed by the passenger-side airbags from the driver-side airbags. If the airbag is too dangerous for passengers, how can the very same airbag installed on the driver-side be sufficiently safe for drivers?

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida took the agency to task for urging vehicle owners to take action, without providing them with specific steps, and for allowing automakers to launch regional recalls. He pointed out that many of his state’s part-time resident may have their cars registered in northern states, but still spent significant parts of the year in a hot and humid climate. All three urged automakers affected by the recalls to provide customers awaiting replacement airbags with free rental cars,. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has talked about holding a hearing.

There are now 7.8 million U.S. vehicles under recall involving 10 manufacturers: Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. In 2009, Takata told NHTSA that it has used propellant chemistry in more than 100,000,000 air bag inflators sold to most major vehicle manufacturers over the past 10 years.  Friedman has said that NHTSA investigators have “definitively identified the root cause.” But, given the many explanations that Takata has offered over the last six years, it’s hard to believe.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are investigating if Takata lied to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the scope of the defect. This is the same office that successfully concluded a four-year probe into Toyota’s actions surrounding Unintended Acceleration last March. The automaker pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay the government $1.2 billion for lying about the defect to NHTSA and consumers.

You can view the Manufacturer, Make, Model, Model Year(s), and Recall Numbers of affected vehicles on the list below:

  • Mazda, Mazda, Mazda6, 2003-2004, 13V130
  • Mazda, Mazda, RX-8, 2004, 13V130
  • Toyota, Toyota, Corolla, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • Toyota, Toyota, Matrix, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • Toyota, Lexus, SC430, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • Toyota, Toyota, Sequoia, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • Toyota, Toyota, Tundra, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • GM, Pontiac, Vibe, 2002-2004, 13V133
  • Nissan, Infiniti, FX35, 2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Infiniti, FX45, 2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Infiniti, I-30, 2001, 13V136
  • Nissan, Infiniti, I35, 2002-2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Nissan, Maxima, 2001-2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Nissan, Pathfinder, 2001-2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Infiniti, QX4, 2002-2003, 13V136
  • Nissan, Nissan, Sentra, 2002-2003, 13V136
  • BMW, BMW, 325Ci, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 325i, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 325iT, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 325xi, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 325xiT, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 330Ci, Convertible, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 330Ci, Coupe, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 330i, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, 330xi, Sedan, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, M3, Convertible, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • BMW, BMW, M3, Coupe, 2002-2003, 13V172
  • Nissan, Infiniti, FX, 2003-2005, 14V340
  • Nissan, Infiniti, I35, 2003-2004, 14V340
  • Nissan, Infiniti, M, 2006, 14V340
  • Nissan, Nissan, Pathfinder, 2003-2004, 14V340
  • Nissan, Nissan, Sentra, 2004-2006, 14V340
  • Ford, Ford, GT, 2005-2006, 14V343
  • Ford, Ford, Mustangs, 2005-2007, 14V343
  • Ford, Ford, Ranger, 2004, 14V343
  • Mazda, Mazda, B-Series, 2004, 14V344
  • Mazda, Mazda, Mazda6, 2003-2007, 14V344
  • Mazda, Mazda, MazdaSpeed6, 2006-2007, 14V344
  • Mazda, Mazda, MPV, 2004-2005, 14V344
  • Mazda, Mazda, RX-8, 2004-2008, 14V344
  • BMW, BMW, 325i, 2004-2006, 14V348
  • BMW, BMW, 325xi, 2004-2005, 14V348
  • BMW, BMW, 330i, 2004-2006, 14V348
  • BMW, BMW, 330xi, 2004-2005, 14V348
  • BMW, BMW, M3, 2004-2006, 14V348
  • Toyota, Toyota, Corolla, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Toyota, Toyota, Matrix, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Toyota, Lexus, SC430, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Toyota, Toyota, Sequoia, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Toyota, Toyota, Tundra, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Toyota, Pontiac, Vibe, 2003-2005, 14V350
  • Honda, Honda, Accord, 2001-2007, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Accord, 2001-2002, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Civic, 2001-2005, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, CR-V, 2002-2006, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Element, 2003-2011, 14V351
  • Honda, Acura, MDX, 2003-2006, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Odyssey, 2002-2004, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Pilot, 2003-2007, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Ridgeline, 2006, 14V351
  • Honda, Acura, TL/CL, 2002-2003, 14V351
  • Honda, Honda, Accord, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, Civic, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, CR-V, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, Element, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Acura, MDX, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, Odyssey, 2003-2004, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, Pilot, 2003-2005, 14V353
  • Honda, Honda, Ridgeline, 2006, 14V353
  • Honda, Acura, RL, 2005, 14V353
  • Chrysler, Chrysler, 300, 2005-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Chrysler, Aspen, 2007-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Dakota, 2005-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Durango, 2005-2008, 14V354
  • Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi, Raider, 2006-2007, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, 1500, 2003-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, 2500, 2005-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, 3500, 2006-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, 4500, 2006-2008, 14V354
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, 5500, 2008, 14V354
  • Subaru, Subaru, Baja, 2003-2004, 14V399
  • Subaru, Subaru, Impreza, 2004, 14V399
  • Subaru, Subaru, Legacy, 2003-2004, 14V399
  • Subaru, Subaru, Outback, 2003-2004, 14V399
  • Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi, Lancer, 2004-2005, 14V421
  • BMW, BMW, 323i, 2000, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, 325i, 2001-2006, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, 325xi, 2001-2005, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, 328i, 2000, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, 330i, 2001-2006, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, 330xi, 2001-2005, 14V428
  • BMW, BMW, M3, 2001-2006, 14V428
  • GM, Saab, 9-2X, 2005, 14V471
  • Subaru, Subaru, Baja, 2003-2005, 14V471
  • Subaru, Subaru, Impreza, 2004-2005, 14V471
  • Subaru, Subaru, Legacy, 2003-2005, 14V471
  • Subaru, Subaru, Outback, 2003-2005, 14V471
  • Toyota, Toyota, Corolla, 2003-2005, 14V655
  • Toyota, Toyota, Matrix, 2003-2005, 14V655
  • Toyota, Lexus, SC, 2002-2005, 14V655
  • Toyota, Toyota, Sequoia, 2002-2005, 14V655
  • Toyota, Toyota, Tundra, 2003-2005, 14V655
  • GM, Pontiac, Vibe, 2003-2005, 14V655


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