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NHTSA requires Takata to expand recall in U.S.

Posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016   

After reviewing three investigations and conducting its own inquiry into the matter, federal safety regulators say they know what causes some Takata airbags to suddenly explode and send metal fragments into the cabin, according to The New York Times.  As expected, federal safety regulators say that long-term exposure to humidity and fluctuations in temperature causes the airbag’s propellant to degrade.  Over time, this degradation causes the propellant to become unstable and more likely to explode when unnecessary.

In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that Takata would be required to initiate the recall of another 35 to 40 million airbags in the United States.  This new recall will raise the number of airbags that will have been recalled in the U.S. to around 64 million, making “‘the largest recall in American history,’” according to NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind.

Though Takata eventually began to use a drying agent to better stabilize its airbag propellant, ammonium nitrate, those airbags without it still pose a risk to drivers, even if that risk may not be immediate.  Since time is a factor in the degradation of the airbag’s propellant, new vehicles equipped with a defective airbag will not become dangerous for several years.  However, every one of these airbags will eventually pose a risk, which is why every airbag without the drying agent will be replaced as part of this most recent recall.

Takata has been given until the end of 2018 to finish recalling vehicles that were equipped with its defective airbag, and until the end of 2019 to recall those newer defective airbags that were installed in other recalls that were initiated in recent years.

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