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Cars Exclusive: explosive scale of Takata airbag scandal

04:50  06 november  2019
04:50  06 november  2019 Source:   autoexpress.co.uk

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Takata airbags were first recalled in 2008 by Honda, with several other firms following suit over the years. File Video: Automakers Announce Massive Less than a year later, however, fresh DVSA figures show the true scale of the Takata scandal is far larger than previously thought, with 3.43

Right now across the globe there are 100-million cars fitted with airbags that instead of saving lives, could kill. They are the time bombs made by Takata

a close up of a car: Airbag © Auto Express Airbag

More than 1.7 million UK vehicles are still subject to an outstanding safety recall because of defective airbags that could deploy incorrectly, firing shards of metal at occupants’ necks and faces, Auto Express can exclusively reveal.

The issue relates to vehicles fitted with airbags manufactured by Japanese firm Takata, which supplied the defective bags to around 20 manufacturers globally, who fitted them to as many as 60 million cars. Takata airbags were first recalled in 2008 by Honda, with several other firms following suit over the years.

File Video: Automakers Announce Massive Recalls Over Defective Takata Airbags (Newsweek)

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The airbags , made by major parts supplier Takata , were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015. January 9, 2018: Takata expanded its already massive recall by an additional 3.3 million airbag inflators over the same concerns that they might explode and spray dangerous metal

Exclusive : explosive scale of Takata airbag scandal . Almost one in 20 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag scandal ; making the issue far larger than previously thought.

Auto Express uncovered data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in December 2018 that revealed 2.9 million UK vehicles had been fitted with defective Takata airbags, with 991,333 of those bags yet to be replaced.

Less than a year later, however, fresh DVSA figures show the true scale of the Takata scandal is far larger than previously thought, with 3.43 million affected vehicles, 1.7 million of which are yet to be repaired. 

That figure means roughly 4.5 per cent of all vehicles in the UK have the defective airbags; concerningly, the DVSA expects the total number of Takata-equipped cars to grow as more models are identified, and explosive charges in the airbags continue to degrade over time.

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The " airbag inflator" is the part of the airbag that contains that explosive charge. While " explosive charge" may sound scary, these are normally very The problem is that Takata 's aren't quite as safe and stable as they should be. The inflators can explode without warning, and in ways that rupture

Takata , the only major airbag manufacturer to use the ammonium nitrate propellant, has said it is safe when properly treated with a stabilizing compound. Volkswagen, which is also embroiled in a scandal over its cheating of emissions testing, confirmed that it had been notified about Takata ’s recall filing

Almost all brands fitted Takata airbags to their cars, including Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Toyota, Subaru, Mercedes and Mazda. The majority of affected cars were manufactured between 2000 and 2015.

two airbag exploded at a car accident,Car Crash air bag © Getty two airbag exploded at a car accident,Car Crash air bag The Takata scandal also means countless second-hand car retailers are likely to be breaking the law and face prosecution by Trading Standards, because it is illegal for dealers to sell a car that is subject to an outstanding safety recall.

UK authorities are adamant that our temperate climate means there is a “very low risk” of the airbags deploying incorrectly over here, but the safety campaign exists nonetheless, and represents the largest such recall ever enacted. There are also concerns that as the airbags get older, the chance of them improperly deploying increases.

Ian Bartlett, the head of the DVSA’s vehicle safety branch explained: “Britain is considered very low risk for Takata issues due to the climate, and there have been no incidents on UK roads as a result. Nonetheless, Bartlett said that the DVSA “has pressed each manufacturer to produce a plan for when each model needs to be rectified on the basis of expected component degradation. 

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Investigated Takata ’s PSAN air bag inflators and successfully pressured Takata to recall the tens of millions of defective air bag inflators it sold. Communicated with the vehicle manufacturers about the safety of their vehicles, appropriate prioritization of the vehicles, replacement-parts availability and

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This has resulted in a recent increase in the number of vehicles affected”. The DVSA added it did not consider the risk posed by UK Takata airbags serious enough to issue a ‘Stop Drive’ recall notice that would tell motorists to not use their cars, and that it continues to work with the Department for Transport as it attempts to link the annual MoT test with its own vast recall database.

protection system for car drivers accident © thierry vialard protection system for car drivers accident Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “Manufacturers have worked in partnership with DVSA on a risk-based, phased approach, to recall models which may be at risk of faulty Takata airbags.

“This is a global issue related to component degradation over time, affecting different companies and many millions of vehicles. There have been no incidences of fault in the UK, however, and, due to the climatic conditions here the risk to consumers is very low. Nevertheless, the industry is intent on ensuring all affected cars are rectified as quickly as possible.”

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The scale of the Takata airbag recall is vast; bigger than anyone knows for sure, bigger than Takata would like anyone to find out. Takata ’s research brought them to ammonium nitrate, the same explosive in the Oklahoma City bombing. It was volatile, and would get extremely so if ever exposed

As an executive of Takata at that time, it comprehensively covers the internal struggles of US engineering vs Japanese cultural inability to say “no”. This book is an excellent account of what happened at Takata and what led to many car manufacturers installing dangerous airbags in our cars.

Hawes added that the UK’s recall system is “one of the most robust in the world”, and that “industry has been working closely with the DVSA to improve the process, proposals including enhancing the MoT to cover outstanding recalls which would help ensure vehicles are identified and fixed.” Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said franchised dealers automatically check cars for recalls. 

Video: Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Fiat Chrysler, Honda vehicles under investigation for faulty airbags (USA TODAY)

a red car parked next to a body of water
“If a safety recall is found, retailers will make every effort to have it rectified prior to the vehicle being sold.” She added that dealers would take manufacturer advice to determine if the car can be safely driven if parts-supply issues exist, passing this information on to customers. Robinson stressed it is “imperative” that consumers contact dealers if they receive a recall notice. 

What’s wrong with Takata airbags?

Airbags inflate when an explosive charge fills them with gas. At the turn of the millennium, Takata started using the explosive ammonium nitrate, instead of tetrazole, in its airbags. Ammonium nitrate is far cheaper than tetrazole, but it is also more susceptible to heat and humidity. In hot and humid climates the ammonium nitrate tablets used in Takata airbags can break down over time and turn into powder, which makes the explosive process too powerful. 

Japanese car makers Toyota and Honda recall more than 6 MILLION vehicles worldwide due to airbag faults

  Japanese car makers Toyota and Honda recall more than 6 MILLION vehicles worldwide due to airbag faults Toyota's recall is due to an issue with airbag control units that could prevent the safety devices being triggered during a crash, while Honda's is a wider call back for US models with Takata airbags fitted.Toyota is recalled around 3.4 million cars globally - though the majority are in the US - because of a glitch that could prevent an airbag inflating in a crash.

This can cause the metal containers in which the explosives are stored to fracture when the airbag deploys, firing shrapnel at occupants. Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Takata fatality: US case study

Interior view of 2 deployed airbags, view from driver's side with focus on first airbag and steering. © gokhan ilgaz Interior view of 2 deployed airbags, view from driver's side with focus on first airbag and steering. Armando Ortega from Yuma, Arizona, died in June last year after the Takata airbag in his 2002 Honda Civic malfunctioned in an accident.

Ortega was struck by metallic shrapnel from the airbag, dying three days later. Honda confirmed the Civic’s airbag deployed defectively, and that 12 recall letters had been sent to previous owners of the car, which Ortega purchased less than three months prior to the accident. An estimated 24 people have been killed worldwide by Takata airbags.

Numbers: The true scale of the problem

Dec 2018 figureOct 2019 figureIncrease
Affected cars2,930,2963,438,95017.30%
Unrepaired recalls991,3331,710,93272.50%

What should owners do?

Concerned drivers can find out if their car is subject to a recall by entering its registration number into the DVSA’s online checker: www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-recall. Delays in loading data mean not all cars with defective airbags will necessarily be picked up by this tool, but consumers can also enter their car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) into the SMMT’s recall checker: www.themotorombudsman.org/vehicle-recalls to see if it is affected by the Takata recall.

The DVSA warns, however, that the number of affected cars poses parts-supply difficulties for manufacturers seeking to replace defective airbags, so fixes may not be immediately available.

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1.4 million cars recalled due to Takata - airbag recalls never stop .
Again, many vehicles in the USA have to be called to the workshops because of defective gas generators in airbags. The promotion affects several brands. © Caro, Picture-Alliance, Ullstein-Bild, Vario Images, Hans Peter Seufert The Japanese airbag specialist Takata has actually been insolvent for a long time and is now owned by the Chinese-American automotive supplier KSS.

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