Consumers are often unaware that when an automaker recalls their vehicle, the automaker is supposed to cover the cost of repair. If you own one of the millions of vehicles on the Takata airbag recall list, an authorized dealer will replace the faulty airbag with a new one free of charge.
Make sure to visit a dealer authorized by the manufacturer to make the repairs and bring your recall notice with you to avoid potential confusion about whether your vehicle is on the list. If the dealership tries to charge you for the recall repair, first contact the manufacturer directly and, if that fails, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to file a complaint.
Not every vehicle with a Takata airbag has been recalled. Dealerships are not replacing Takata airbags that have not yet been recalled, so before you head to the dealership to get a replacement, you should determine whether your vehicle is under recall.
How to Determine If Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled
The U.S. recall system is flawed – automakers can take too long to initiate recalls, use outdated ownership and address information, and delay replacement part availability – so it is not wise to wait until you receive a recall notice. You can look up your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) search tool to determine if there are any open recalls on your vehicle. Alternatively, most automakers have their own VIN lookup tool on their websites, as well as webpages dedicated to providing information about their recalls.
If you do not know your VIN, you can find it by standing outside of your car and looking at the lower corner of your windshield on the driver’s side and on a placard that is typically located inside one of the vehicle door frames. Your VIN also appears on your registration paperwork.
Who Bears the Costs of Repair?
So far, about 50 million airbags have been recalled, and more recalls are expected in 2019. According to a New York Times review of Takata’s internal documents, each airbag costs about $100 to replace.
Typically, the automakers pay the upfront costs of a recall repair and are reimbursed by the manufacturer of the defective equipment that prompted the vehicle recalls. However, the scope of this recall and the $1.2 billion in fines levied against Takata forced the airbag manufacturer into bankruptcy and placed more onus on the automakers to cover the costs.
Several of the automakers were aware of the potential for the Takata airbags to rupture and spew metal fragments at occupants long before they initiated recalls. Nonetheless, Takata’s $1 billion settlement of criminal charges that its executives committed wire fraud by falsifying test reports to hide ruptures that were occurring in the lab included $850 million to reimburse automakers’ recall and replacement costs.
The automakers and Takata also face civil liability for injuries and deaths related to the defective airbags. If you sustained injuries in a crash because of a defective airbag, please contact Newsome Melton. Our attorneys handle complex civil cases involving severe or fatal injuries. Call us today at 888-808-5977.