Exploding Air Bags: Takata Recall Now Totals 34 Million Vehicles

by Jerry Hirsch and Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

Takata air bag

Alexauto321/Wikimedia Commons

Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp. on Tuesday declared that air bags in nearly 34 million vehicles are defective, making it the largest recall of automobiles in history and among the biggest of any U.S. consumer product.

The Tuesday announcement reverberated through the auto industry, which has come under increasingly harsh scrutiny from federal safety regulators. It marks a victory for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has pressed Takata for such action since last fall.

“Lives are at stake,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “That is why we are doing what we are doing today.”

At least six people have been killed by the air bags, and dozens more have been injured.

The air bag recall doubles the size of an ongoing recall of Takata air bags initiated by automakers and extends to vehicles manufactured by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. It exceeds the previous record of 21 million Ford vehicles that were recalled in 1981 for a faulty parking gear.

Investigators believe that the problem results from faulty fabrication of chemical-propellant wafers stacked inside the inflators at Takata factories in Moses Lake, Wash., and Monclova, Mexico. The problem can cause a metal canister in the air bag system to explode, spraying shrapnel into the passenger cabin.

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