Commentary on defective tires, cars, recalls and litigation.

Rich Newsome is a civil justice attorney who represents consumers who have been injured by defective tires, cars and other products. As Past President of the Florida Justice Association and current member of the Executive Committee of the National Trial Lawyers Association…MORE

20
Oct

As we reported recently here on our blog, millions of vehicles have been identified as part of a “rolling recall” involving defective Takata airbags. The airbags, which explode with too much force, cause the metal housing to shatter and fly into the face of drivers and passengers like shrapnel from a pipe bomb.

In addition to the danger to consumers who have cars with affected airbags are two additional problems: first, neither the manufacturers nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or “NHTSA”, which is the government agency regulating automobile manufacturers), have identified or explained the exact cause of the defect.  

The second, and more dangerous problem for members of the public, is that there are still millions of affected vehicles which are subject to the recall and are still on the road.

Honda was the first manufacturer to identify the problem and first recalled some of its cars with the bad airbags back in 2009. Since then Honda has issued numerous subsequent recalls, and beginning last year, six additional manufacturers including BMW, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, and Mazda have announced recalls for some of their vehicles as well.

Unfortunately, even though there have been millions of vehicles recalled, there has been relatively little media attention focused on this problem compared to more visible recalls such as with the recent GM ignition switch case, or the Toyota unintended acceleration recall from a few years ago. As a result, many consumers have never heard about the Takata airbag recall.

Another problem with this recall is the manner in which vehicles have been recalled. Rather than notifying consumers by telephone or certified mail, some of the Takata airbag recall notices have been sent to consumers via regular mail. As a result, millions of cars with recalled airbags are still on the road.

Our firm recently filed a lawsuit in Florida on behalf of a 26 year old father of three, who was blinded in one eye when a Takata airbag exploded and shot shrapnel into his face. As alleged in the complaint our firm filed for him and his family, even though his car had one of the recalled airbags, neither he nor his family ever received a recall notice until weeks after he was injured.

Today NHTSA issued a Consumer Advisory for vehicle owners with Takata airbags. This appears to be an effort to increase consumer awareness of the urgent need to take their cars into a dealership or repair facility to have their recalled airbags replaced. As also stated in the Advisory, consumers in hot and humid states like Florida and Hawaii are thought to be most immediately at risk, because as NHTSA and Takata have previously recognized, they suspect that heat and humidity may be a contributing cause of the problem.

Our firm applauds NHTSA for today’s Consumer Advisory. Hopefully the media will pick up on the story and help notify consumers of the urgent need to check their vehicles for whether they have a recalled airbag, and to then immediately take their vehicle in to a shop to have it fixed.

To help spread the word, below is some of the language from the NHTSA Advisory, listing which vehicles are affected:

Consumers that are uncertain whether their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can check on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. On the site, consumers can search by their vehicle identification number (VIN) to confirm whether their individual vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. In addition, consumers can sign-up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.

 

Affected Vehicles, by Manufacturer, Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbag

 

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

 

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL

 

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – Infiniti FX

 

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 – Mazda RX-8

 

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

 

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

 

To read the complete NHTSA Consumer Advisory, click here.


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