Despite the fact that they will need to be recalled eventually, there are at least four carmakers—Volkswagen, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Fiat Chrysler—that will continue to install defective Takata airbags into new vehicles, according to a report released by a Senate Commerce Committee. As reported by The New York Times, the report indicates that some vehicles that have been recalled for their defective airbags have been receiving airbags that are defective and which will need to be subject to another recall down the line.
As of now, regulators do not require automakers to tell people who buy new cars that they their vehicle has been equipped with a defective Takata airbag. Since these airbags are not thought to pose an immediate threat—they only become defective after a certain period of time—regulators have allowed the continued use of Takata airbags in new and recalled vehicles. However, these newly-installed Takata airbags will still need to be recalled at a later date.
Considering that 60 million vehicles have already been recalled to fix the defective airbags, Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelly Blue Book, noted that it has been difficult for automakers to find alternate airbag suppliers. Nonetheless, Brauer believes that regulators should require carmakers to at least disclose which models have been installed with a defective airbag that will eventually need to be replaced.
When it does come time to begin recalling these newly-installed airbags, automakers will begin contacting owners in the first quarter of 2017 so that their airbags may be replaced with a non-Takata inflator.
Around 500,000 Jeep Wranglers are being recalled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles due to an airbag issue, with approximately 392,000 of these vehicles located in the United States. The concerns regarding this recall are extremely serious, as it has been discovered that the airbags on the driver’s side of these vehicles might not deploy in the event of an accident.
7,400 2011-2016 Wranglers used for delivering mail have been recalled in the US, as well. These vehicles are different in that they have right-hand drive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered the defect during investigations, causing the automaker to issue the recall. According to Fiat Chrysler Automakers, because Jeep Wranglers are built and often used for off-roading purposes, dirt accumulated during these excursions could clog the system that activates an airbag deployment in an accident. Luckily, should this occur, an airbag warning light will come on, alerting the driver to the issue.
The automaker has stated that so far, no injuries related to the defect have been reported.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, internal Takata emails that were recently unsealed as a part of a personal injury lawsuit against the Japanese airbag manufacturer suggest that data from airbag testing may have been “misrepresented and manipulated.” So far, more than 20 million vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags have been recalled and, unless the company can prove that the ammonium nitrate they use as a propellant in many of their airbags is safe, these numbers could increase.
The newly unsealed emails contain communications between Takata employees specifically regarding inflater testing in airbags that made use of the ammonium nitrate propellant. One email from a Takata airbag engineer contained the text “Happy Manipulating!!!” in addition to the results of airbag testing. Other emails include comments about changing the appearance of lines and colors in a graphic of testing results in an attempt to “dress it up” and “divert attention” from the results themselves.
In response to this new information, Takata has argued that these comments do not indicate data manipulation, but rather, are specifically regarding the formatting of data, and that they are not related to the airbags included in the current recall.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fiat Chrysler is issuing a recall of nearly 1.7 million Ram trucks.
Accounting for about 188,000 of the vehicles recalled in this announcement are 2014 – 2015 Ram 1500 Quad Cab pickup trucks that reportedly have an issue that may prevent the side curtain airbags from adequately overlapping the C-pillars in the event of a collision. This issue represents a failure on Fiat Chrysler’s behalf to meet federal regulations to “reduce the risk of rear-occupant ejection during a rollover crash,” according to the NHTSA report. While there have been no reported incidents related to the issue, its presence raises the risk of injury to backseat passengers.
The auto maker reminded owners that “All FCA US vehicles are equipped with electronic stability control, which reduces the risk of rollovers” on their website; however the statement also reminds drivers and passengers to always wear their seatbelts.
As the recall is still under development and not yet official, owners must wait to schedule service appointments for their affected vehicles. For more information, contact Fiat Chrysler’s customer service at 1-800-853-1403.
If you have been injured in a collision caused by a defect in your vehicle, contact the attorneys at Pohl & Berk, LLP, to let us help you fight for compensation for your unnecessary suffering.
A Georgia jury ruled on Thursday, April 2 that auto manufacturer Chrysler will have to pay $150 million to the family of four-year-old Remington “Remi” Walden, who died after the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee he was riding with his aunt caught fire after a rear-end collision in March 2012.
According to court records, the Jeep’s fuel tank leaked, causing the Jeep to subsequently burst into flames.
Two years ago, Chrysler agreed to a scaled-down recall of some older-model Jeeps that have rear-mounted gas tanks, which can be left unsecured in the event of a rear-end collision, thus causing them to be susceptible to causing fires.
If you have been hurt in a personal injury accident caused by the negligence and irresponsibility of other parties in Nashville or other areas in Tennessee, seek the legal assistance of our attorneys at Pohl & Berk, LLP by calling our offices at (615) 277-2765 today.
Recent and devastating tire failure deaths were likely in the foreground of many participants’ minds at the Tire Safety Symposium in Washington D.C. earlier this month.
Tire safety standards and regulations lag far behind other automotive parts manufacturers. While others in the industry heavily rely on RFID chips to easily track and recall their goods, tire manufacturers have no such system, making it difficult for companies to identify recalled tires and for consumers to monitor the age of their tires; this is continuing to cause preventable deaths and injuries across the country. Major players, such as the Rubber Manufacturers Association still remain resistant to implementing any change in their processes.
To read highlights from the symposium, click here.
While Takata is still maintaining that they have not identified the source of their airbag failures, a new report by The New York Times reveals that the company has expressed concerns over their use of ammonium nitrate as a propellant since the mid-‘90s.
The current concerns regarding Takata airbags center around their propensity to inflate with too much force and release shrapnel when deployed. This problem has been associated with five deaths and many more injuries. Critics have recently pointed a finger at ammonium nitrate as the source of the problem; Takata refutes this claim.
However, patent applications from the mid-‘90s reveal that Takata was aware of the potential problems with using ammonium nitrate to inflate their airbags. In the newly released documents, Takata previously acknowledged that the compound “was so vulnerable to temperature changes that its casing, under excessive pressure, ‘might even blow up.’” Takata has since worked to stabilize the compound by adding potassium to the propellant. They introduced the airbags with ammonium nitrate to the market in 2001, but additional patent applications show that they continued to propose more stabilizing measures in the following years, suggesting that Takata may have known the propellant was not yet completely safe, even as they continued to manufacture the product.
In a congressional hearing last week, Takata’s chief quality officer said, “The ammonium nitrate that we are using, it’s safe and stable.” Takata is continuing to use ammonium nitrate in the replacement airbags for recalled vehicles.
In the wake of a federal investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned Takata that they would take serious action against the air bag manufacturer if they did not expand their recall, according to The New York Times.
The latest action by the NHTSA highlights the ongoing struggle between safety regulators and Takata. The air bag manufacturer has issued a recall to areas within the United States that have high heat and humidity, as the majority of reported incidents have occurred in these areas. However, reports of Takata’s air bags exploding outside of these regions has prompted the NHTSA to put more pressure on Takata and individual manufacturers to expand their recall to cover the entire nation.
While Honda has voluntarily expanded their recall, Takata is remaining resistant. The NHTSA said that they will likely force a recall and could impose a fine of $7,000 per violation if Takata does not take action within the week.