Honda is warning Americans that 62,000 of its vehicles are “ticking time bombs.” In an exclusive article in the Washington Post, Honda says these vehicles, typically older Hondas dating back to 2001, have defective Takata brand airbags. Honda claims to be ready and willing to repair these vehicles, but says it is having a hard time finding the current owners of the cars. Honda asserts that even when it locates an owner, some of them do not believe the vehicles are dangerous, so they refuse to allow Honda to make the repairs.
The Washington Post article claims that:
- Takata knew around 2000 that some of the ammonium-nitrate inflators could explode.
- Some of the earlier inflators also had manufacturing defects that made them more prone to rupture.
- Humidity and the passage of time degrade the ammonium nitrate, causing the airbags to inflate with too much pressure, leading to rupture.
- Takata sent automakers and the government fraudulent reports to try to hide the problems with the inflators.
Takata pled guilty to wire fraud in February of 2018. It admitted to selling airbags it knew were defective, and to covering up the truth about the danger. The company will pay $1 billion for the concealment.
Some older Takata inflators, known as “Alphas,” have a 50-50 chance of exploding in even minor crashes. When the inflators explode, they send shrapnel flying at high speed, maiming or killing people inside the vehicle.
In 2008, Jewel Brangman, was in a minor crash in a rented 2001 Honda Civic. The airbag exploded and killed her by severing the carotid artery in her neck with shrapnel.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest auto industry recall in U.S. history. The dangerous airbags have killed people in these states:
- South Carolina
- West Virginia