Takata Airbag Recall | Newsome Melton

Takata Airbag Recall

A Definitive Guide for Vehicle Owners

The Takata airbag recall affects approximately 37 million vehicles as of February 15, 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Takata airbags may explode with too much force and shatter the inflator, which can shoot metal shrapnel into the vehicle, potentially injuring or killing occupants. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the recall.

Table Of Contents

Breaking News on the Takata Recall

Takata Recall Hits Florida Hardest; Most Injuries and Deaths in U.S.: The saga behind Takata’s lethal airbag inflators, which caused the largest recall in automobile industry history, continues to unfold in dramatic fashion. In the United States, Florida has been identified as the state with the most injuries and deaths linked to metal exploding from out of a faulty inflator. In the wake of the announcement last month, Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, is leading the charge to hold automakers accountable and asking that every recalled airbag inflator is replaced before the warmer summer months of July and August.

The explosive ammonium nitrate, used to set off the airbags in an accident, can become unstable over time, especially in hot climates like Florida and cause a rupture. In the United States; Texas, California, Georgia, and the U.S. territory Puerto Rico are the other locations with the highest number of deaths and injuries. In Florida, there have been 83 injuries and three deaths announced thus far. Since December 2014, the reported injuries in Florida have risen by nearly 400 percent.

“We still have a huge problem with getting these dangerous airbags replaced and out of the cars and off the highways,” said Sen. Nelson. “To stop these horrible tragedies, we have to get these vehicles fixed.”
Nelson called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure that the automakers replace all of the defective airbag inflators in Florida. Nelson claims that only 45 percent of the recalled vehicles in Florida have had their inflators replaced. That leaves 1.3 million with potentially lethal airbag inflators still being driven. Nelson pleaded with the NHTSA to make it happen by June 30th and to have the automakers post a plan of action online before it gets much hotter.

“These plans should include a commitment to get folks with a recall vehicle—get them in for service as quickly as possible and on a schedule that meets their needs. And a promise to provide people with rental cars . . . or alternate transportation,” said Sen. Nelson.

On June 1, 2018, Honda announced another fatality linked to a faulty Takata airbag inflator. The accident in question that led to the death of a driver in Malaysia occurred in May 2004, which indicates that more deaths may have occurred and have not yet been announced. In addition, last week, authorities in Australia added another 1.1 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags to the massive recall, now at well over 100 million inflators worldwide.

Nearly 30 people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured by a Takata inflator, yet many lethal airbag components are still on the road. Why? In part, because millions of drivers have never been contacted by their automaker or by the NHTSA and have no idea that they are driving a recalled vehicle because they are not the original owner.

If you are not the initial buyer of your vehicle, locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to see if your automobile has ever been recalled.

Vehicles Subject to the Takata Recall

This list was last updated February 21, 2018. Recalls are updated frequently. Always check with the NHTSA and vehicle manufacturer to confirm whether or not your vehicle has been recalled.

If your vehicle is in a Priority Group (What is a Priority Group?) that has not yet been recalled, it will not yet appear in the VIN recall lookup tool. But it will appear on the list below.

Acura Audi BMW
2003 Acura 3.2CL 2006-2013 Audi A3 2008-2013 BMW 1 Series
2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL 2005-2008 Audi A4 Avant 2000-2013 BMW 3 Series
2013-2016 Acura ILX 2006-2009 Audi A4 Cabriolet 2002-2003 BMW 5 Series
2013-2014 Acura ILX Hybrid 2005-2008 Audi A4 Sedan 2011-2015 BMW X1
2003-2006 Acura MDX 2010-2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet 2007-2010 BMW X3
2007-2016 Acura RDX 2003-2011  Audi A6 Avant 2003-2013 BMW X5
2005-2012 Acura RL 2005-2011 Audi A6 Sedan 2008-2014 BMW X6
2009-2014 Acura TL 2009-2012 Audi Q5 2010-2011 BMW X6 Hybrid
2009-2014 Acura TSX 2017 Audi R8  
2010-2013 Acura ZDX 2008 Audi RS 4 Cabriolet  
  2007-2008 Audi RS 4 Sedan  
  2005-2008 Audi S4 Avant  
  2007-2009 Audi S4 Cabriolet  
  2005-2008 Audi S4 Sedan  
  2010-2012 Audi S5 Cabriolet  
  2007-2011 Audi S6 Sedan  
  2016-2017 Audi TT  
Cadillac Chevrolet Chrysler
2007-2014 Cadillac Escalade 2007-2013 Chevrolet Avalanche 2005-2015 Chrysler 300
2007-2014 Cadillac Escalade ESV 2007-2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2007-2009 Chrysler Aspen
2007-2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT 2007-2013 Chevrolet Silverado LD 2007-2008 Chrysler Crossfire
  2007-2014 Chevrolet Suburban  
  2007-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe  
Daimler Trucks North America Daimler Vans USA LLC Dodge/Ram
2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 2007-2009 Dodge Sprinter 2008-2014 Dodge Challenger
  2007-2017 Freightliner Sprinter 2006-2015 Dodge Charger
  2010-2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2005-2011 Dodge Dakota
    2004-2009 Dodge Durango
    2005-2008 Dodge Magnum
    2003-2008 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 Pickup
    2005-2009 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup
    2007-2010 Dodge Ram 3500 Cab Chassis
    2006-2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Pickup
    2008-2010 Dodge Ram 4500/5500 Cab Chassis
Ferrari Fisker Ford
2010-2015 Ferrari 458 Italia 2012 Fisker Karma 2007-2010 Ford Edge
2014-2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale   2006-2012 Ford Fusion
2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale A   2005-2006 Ford GT
2012-2015 Ferrari 458 Spider   2005-2014 Ford Mustang
2016-2017 Ferrari 488 GTB   2004-2011 Ford Ranger
2016-2017 Ferrari 488 Spider    
2009-2014 Ferrari California    
2015-2017 Ferrari California T    
2013-2017 Ferrari F12    
2016-2017 Ferrari F12 tdf    
2016 Ferrari F60    
2012-2016 Ferrari FF    
2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso    
GMC Honda Infiniti
2007-2014 GMC Sierra HD 2001-2012 Honda Accord 2003-2008 Infiniti FX
2007-2013 GMC Sierra LD 2001-2011 Honda Civic 2001 Infiniti I30
2007-2014 GMC Yukon 2003-2011 Honda Civic Hybrid 2002-2004 Infiniti I35
2007-2014 GMC Yukon XL 2001-2011 Honda Civic NGV 2006-2010 Infiniti M
  2010-2015 Honda Crosstour 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4
  2002-2011 Honda CR-V  
  2011-2015 Honda CR-Z  
  2003-2011 Honda Element  
  2010-2014 Honda FCX Clarity  
  2007-2013 Honda Fit  
  2013-2014 Honda Fit EV  
  2010-2014 Honda Insight  
  2002-2004 Honda Odyssey  
  2003-2015 Honda Pilot  
  2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline  
Jaguar Jeep Land Rover
2009-2015 Jaguar XF 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler 2007-2012 Land Rover Range Rover
Lexus Lincoln Mazda
2007-2012 Lexus ES350 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX 2004-2009 Mazda B-Series
2010-2017 Lexus GX460 2006-2012 Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ 2007-2012 Mazda CX-7
2006-2013 Lexus IS250/350   2007-2015 Mazda CX-9
2010-2015 Lexus IS250C/350C   2003-2011 Mazda6
2008-2014 Lexus IS F   2006-2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed6
2012 Lexus LFA   2004-2006 Mazda MPV
2002-2010 Lexus SC430   2004-2011 Mazda RX-8
McLaren Mercedes-Benz Mercury
2016-2017 McLaren 570 2005-2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2006-2011 Mercury Milan
2015-2016 McLaren 650S 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class  
2016 McLaren 675LT 2011-2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabrio  
2012-2014 McLaren MP4-12C 2010-2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe  
2011-2015 McLaren P1 2009-2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class  
  2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class  
  2009-2010 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class  
  2009-2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class  
  2007-2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class  
  2011-2015 Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class  
Mitsubishi Nissan Pontiac
2012-2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2001-2003 Nissan Maxima 2003-2010 Pontiac Vibe
2004-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer 2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinder  
2004-2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2002-2006 Nissan Sentra  
2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback 2007-2012 Nissan Versa  
2006-2009 Mitsubishi Raider    
Saab Saturn Scion
2005-2006 Saab 9-2x 2008-2009 Saturn Astra 2008-2015 Scion XB
2006-2011 Saab 9-3    
2006-2009 Saab 9-5    
Subaru Tesla Toyota
2003-2006 Subaru Baja 2012-2016 Tesla Model S 2010-2016 Toyota 4Runner
2009-2013 Subaru Forester   2003-2013 Toyota Corolla
2004-2011 Subaru Impreza (Including WRX/STI)   2003-2008 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2003-2014 Subaru Legacy   2009-2013 Toyota Matrix
2003-2014 Subaru Outback   2004-2005 Toyota Rav4
2006-2014 Subaru Tribeca   2002-2006 Toyota Sequoia
2012-2014 Subaru WRX/STI   2011-2014 Toyota Sienna
    2003-2006 Toyota Tundra
    2006-2011 Toyota Yaris (Hatchback)
    2007-2012 Toyota Yaris (Sedan)
Volkswagen
2009-2017 Volkswagen CC
2010-2014 Volkswagen Eos
2010-2014 Volkswagen Golf
2013 Volkswagen Golf R
2009-2013 Volkswagen GTI
2012-2014 Volkswagen Passat
2006-2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan
2006-2010 Volkswagen Passat Wagon

Source: NHTSA (https://www.nhtsa.gov/recall-spotlight/takata-air-bags)

Recall Date Depends on Priority Group

Is your vehicle part of the recall but you have not received a recall notice? That may be because the NHTSA is conducting the recall in stages. Every vehicle that is subject to the recall is part of a Priority Group which dictates when the manufacturer must send a recall notice and repair the vehicle. You can check your Priority Group here. To look up your Priority Group, you will need to know your vehicle make, model, and year, as well as your Zone. Your Zone depends on the state in which your vehicle is registered.

ZONE A
Alabama
California
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Louisiana
Mississippi
South Carolina
Texas
Puerto Rico
American Somoa
Guam
Northern Mariana Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands
ZONE B
Arizona
Arkansas
Delaware
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Maryland
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Tennessee
Virginia
Washington D.C.
West Virginia
ZONE C
Alaska
Colorado
Connecticut
Idaho
Iowa
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Montana
New Hampshire
New York
North Dakota
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Pennsylvania

Before the NHTSA established these zones in 2016, regions were grouped by areas of high absolute humidity (HAH) or non-HAH. Manufacturers defined HAH individually, but HAH areas always include vehicles sold or at any time registered in: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each Priority Group has a corresponding date at which point vehicle owners or lessees should receive a recall notice and may schedule a repair.

1. Priority Group 1: Recall May to December 2015
2. Priority Group 2: Recall May to December 2015
3. Priority Group 3: Recall May to December 2015
4. Priority Group 4: January to June 2016
5. Priority Group 5: January to June 2016
6. Priority Group 6: January to June 2016
7. Priority Group 7: Recall January 2017 and registered in Zone A.
8. Priority Group 8: Recall January 2017 and not registered in Zone A.
9. Priority Group 9: Scheduled for recall in January 2018.
10. Priority Group 10: Scheduled for recall in January 2019.
11. Priority Group 11: Vehicles registered in a high absolute humidity (HAH) or Zone A and previously repaired with “like for like” part during 2015 or before.
12. Priority Group 12: Vehicles repaired with “like for like” part and not part of Priority Group 11.

What to Do If Your Vehicle Is Recalled

Contact a Local Dealer for Repairs

If your vehicle is subject to the recall, take your vehicle to the manufacturer’s nearest dealership to schedule a repair. The automaker must repair your airbag for FREE. If the manufacturer refuses to repair the airbag at no charge, then you can file a complaint with the NHTSA.

Ask the Manufacturer If You Can Continue Driving the Vehicle Before Repairs

Ask your manufacturer if it is safe to continue driving your vehicle before you get the airbag replaced at the dealer. Some automakers have advised some owners to stop driving immediately. If your vehicle is on the list below, the NHTSA and automakers advise drivers not to drive the vehicle, unless driving it to a dealership for the airbag repair.
1. 2001-2002 Honda Civic
2. 2001-2002 Honda Accord
3. 2002-2003 Acura TL
4. 2002 Honda CR-V
5. 2002 Honda Odyssey
6. 2003 Acura CL
7. 2003 Honda Pilot
8. 2006 Ford Ranger
9. 2006 Mazda B-Series
Some automakers are advising not to allow passengers to sit in the front passenger seat. Contact your vehicle manufacturer for specific instructions.

Frustrated With Airbag Repair Delays? Here’s How to Speed It Up

Some dealerships are taking weeks or months to repair airbags that are part of the Takata recall. The delays are discouraging some people from getting needed repairs. Watch this video for a tip to get your airbags fixed without long delays.

Common Questions From Vehicle Owners/Lessees With a Takata Airbag

I have not received a recall notice but my vehicle is on the recall list. What should I do?

If your vehicle is in a Priority Group that is not yet part of the recall, you must wait until you receive your recall notice to get your vehicle repaired. If you did not receive a recall notice but your vehicle is part of a Priority Group that is currently part of the recall, contact an authorized dealer to schedule your repair. The dealership should be able to lookup your vehicle using your VIN to confirm it is subject to the airbag recall.

Do I have to take my vehicle to a specific dealership?

Your recall notice may list a local dealership, but you can take it to any of your brand’s dealerships (e.g., Honda dealership for a Honda, Ford dealership for a Ford, etc.). You do not have to take your vehicle to the dealership where you bought or leased it.

Do I need to make an appointment to get my vehicle repaired?

Call the dealership to ask about scheduling an appointment. The Takata recall is so large that dealerships may be overwhelmed trying to accommodate all the repairs, so dealerships may require you to make an appointment.

The Problem With Takata Airbags

The Takata airbag defect boils down to two main issues:

1. Use of ammonium nitrate as a propellant in the inflator
2. Failure to use a drying agent to absorb moisture

When exposed to moisture, ammonium nitrate may degrade. When ignited by a crash sensor during a collision, the degraded ammonium nitrate may explode with too much force. When the airbag’s inflator explodes, it can shatter the housing and other components in the airbag, shooting metal fragments into the vehicle. Shrapnel from the shattered airbag inflator has struck vehicle occupants, causing severe and fatal injuries like lacerations, puncture wounds, and even skull fractures, according to media reports. The image on the right depicts a normal airbag deployment – where the crash sensor signals the inflator to ignite the propellant and start a chemical reaction that produces nitrogen gas to inflate the airbag – compared to the deployment of a defective Takata airbag.

Why Using Ammonium Nitrate as a Propellant Is Problematic

Ammonium nitrate may break down when exposed to moisture. And when the ammonium nitrate degrades, it may become volatile and could “combust violently” when ignited during airbag deployment. A 1995 patent application even sounded the warning on ammonium nitrate, according to research conducted by the New York Times. The NYT reports that the patent warned that the chemical compound was susceptible to temperature changes and its housing “might blow up” under pressure.

Normal Airbag Deployment

Defective Takata Airbag Deployment

Up to 250 Million Vehicles Could Be Recalled for Takata Airbags Worldwide

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson told us in 2016 that he thought the Takata recall might affect hundreds of millions of vehicles globally. Here’s the troubling part: Takata used ammonium nitrate in a lot of its replacement airbags, the same chemical at the center of the problem with Takata’s airbags.

History of Ammonium Nitrate in Airbags

Airbags traditionally used sodium azide-based propellants. But concerns about toxic fumes associated with sodium azide led Takata to explore alternatives in the 1990s. By the late 1990s, Takata was promoting its use of a tetrazole-based propellant, which was thought to be safer than sodium azide. (See this 1998 Auto News article on Envirosure.) Yet, by 2001, Takata was using ammonium nitrate-based propellants, according to the New York Times, which also reports that using ammonium nitrate as a propellant was cheaper than using tetrazole. No other airbag manufacturers use ammonium nitrate in their inflators. They use alternatives such as guanidine nitrate and tetrazole, which are safer than ammonium nitrate-based propellants, according to the New York Times.

Takata Airbags Still Use Ammonium Nitrate

Takata’s replacement airbags still use an ammonium nitrate-based propellant but now include a drying agent to prevent moisture from degrading the ammonium nitrate. But in 2017, millions of the newer airbag inflators, which included a drying agent, were found to be defective and added to the recall. Takata says all the recalled airbags that had drying agents in the inflators used calcium sulfate as a drying agent, and the rest of its new airbags use zeolite as a drying agent. The company claims to have solved the problem with its inflators, but the continued use of ammonium nitrate has many experts skeptical. “The automakers…and Takata – they all know that this is a future issue,” said Scott Upham, chief executive at Valient Market Research, via Reuters. Upham believes there will be more recalls because ammonium nitrate itself is too volatile.

Why Failing to Use a Drying Agent Compounded the Problem

Ammonium nitrate’s susceptibility to moisture makes a drying agent crucial to absorb moisture. Without the drying agent, it leaves the ammonium nitrate vulnerable to moisture, especially in hot and humid climates. This map of fatal accidents attributed to defective Takata airbags – based on media reports and up to date as of February 15, 2018 – provides a visual of the confluence of accidents in Southern climates with high humidity.

However, there have reportedly been fatal accidents involving Takata airbag explosions as far north as Pennsylvania, underscoring how widespread this problem is and that people around the country should get their airbags repaired if subject to the recall.

Deaths & Injuries

As of May 27, 2018, Takata airbags have been associated with the deaths of 27 people, according to media reports, including 17 in the United States. The cause of death in each instance is reportedly the explosion of the inflator which sent shrapnel into the vehicle. Below is a list of the deaths associated with Takata airbags.
Location Date of Accident Vehicle Source
Phoenix, Arizona November 1, 2003 2004 Subaru Impreza Reuters
Midwest City, Oklahoma May 27, 2009 2001 Honda Accord NewsOK
Richmond, Virginia December 24, 2009 2001 Honda Accord New York Times
Alhambra, California September 13, 2013 2002 Acura TL New York Times
Freemont, California March 14, 2014 2013 Chevy Cruz Car Complaints
Malaysia July 27, 2014 2003 Honda City Reuters
Los Angeles County, California September 7, 2014 2001 Honda Civic LA Times
Orlando, Florida September 29, 2014 2001 Honda Accord Detroit Free Press
Spring, Texas January 18, 2015 2002 Honda Accord Houston Press
Lafayette, Louisiana April 15, 2015 2005 Honda Accord New York Times
Mercer County, Pennsylvania July 22, 2015 2001 Honda Accord Chicago Tribune
Kershaw, South Carolina December 22, 2015 2006 Ford Ranger Charlotte Observer
Fort Bend County, Texas March 31, 2016 2002 Honda Civic ABC13, KTRK-TV
Malaysia April 16, 2016 2006 Honda City CBS News
Malaysia May 1, 2016 2003 Honda City CBS News
Malaysia June 2016 Unknown CBS News
Hialeah, Florida June 18, 2016 2001 Honda Accord LA Times
Malaysia September 24, 2016 2009 Honda City CBS News
Corona, California September 30, 2016 2001 Honda Civic Fortune
Martinsburg, West Virginia July 1, 2017 2006 Ford Ranger LA Times
Baton Rouge, Louisiana July 10, 2017 2004 Honda Civic (airbag from 2002 Civic) LA Times
Australia July 13, 2017 2007 Honda CR-V CBS News
Holiday, Florida July 19, 2017 2002 Honda Accord Associated Press
Malaysia January 1, 2018 2004 Honda City Associated Press
Malaysia May 27, 2018 2004 Honda City Associated Press

As of February 15, 2018, the NHTSA is reporting 240 people injured in the United States by defective Takata airbags. The reported injuries include:

1. Puncture wounds
2. Lacerations
3. Skull fractures

Frank Melton With an Update on a New Takata-Related Death in 2016

So far, as of March 2018, there have been 24 deaths associated with defective Takata airbags. Attorney Frank Melton shares how to check your vehicle for airbag recalls and encourages vehicle owners or lessees to get their airbags repaired if they are part of the recall.

In many cases, victims’ injuries may resemble stabbing or gunshot wounds. In fact, in one case, officials investigated an accident as a homicide because the victim’s injuries resembled stab wounds, reports the New York Times. Underscoring the danger of Takata airbags is that many of the fatal accidents occurred at low speeds. One victim died when she struck another vehicle in her school’s parking lot, reports NewsOK.com. Another victim died after her airbag exploded following a minor fender bender, according to KTRK. And another victim died when the airbag exploded while he was performing repairs on the interior of the vehicle, reports the Associated Press.

What Takata Knew

Some evidence reported by the media suggests a company plagued by manufacturing and quality control problems. And some media reports suggest Takata was aware that ammonium nitrate-based inflators were risky and could cause serious injury.

Takata Engineers Raise Alarm That Airbags May Lack Air-Tight Seals

Reuters report from 2014 reveals that Takata may have been aware that its inflators may lack air-tight sealing, which could expose the ammonium nitrate in the inflator to moisture. As far back as 2001, engineers at Takata’s plant in Monclova, Mexico identified problems like poor welding and rust, which the engineers said might cause the inflators to fail, reports Reuters. And in 2002, the Monclova plant recorded 60 to 80 defects per million inflators, which is six to eight times higher than the company’s internal quality control limit.

Report Details Plant Explosion & Poor Manufacturing Standards

Another Reuters report details an explosion at the Monclova plant in 2006 which, according to the report, drove “home for workers and residents the volatility and risk of the explosive compound at the core of Takata’s air bags.” While Takata did not announce what caused the explosion, some workers said the explosion “was fueled by bunkers of ammonium nitrate stores next to the plant,” reports Reuters, referring to the propellant that is at the heart of the current recall. The Reuters report also details the pressure to which workers at the plant were subjected to increase productivity. Takata workers reportedly had to meet a quota to earn a productivity bonus, Reuters reported, citing a worker employed at the plant from 2004 to 2010. Another worker was reported to have cut corners by attempting to fix defective parts rather than placing them in a red bin to be examined by other workers.

Takata Hides Results of Secret 2004 Tests

Perhaps most disturbing, Takata became aware that one of its airbag inflators ruptured and expelled shrapnel at a driver in 2004, according to a New York Times report. Takata responded by conducting tests on 50 airbags recovered from scrap yards, two former Takata employees told the NYT. The tests were conducted in secret after normal work hours, on the weekends, or during holidays. Two of the steel inflators cracked during testing. But rather than informing government safety regulators, executives at Takata reportedly told the technicians who conducted the test to delete the data from their computers and get rid of the inflators they used in the tests. This happened in 2004, four years before Takata told government regulators that it first tested the airbags. “All the testing was hush-hush,” one of the former employees told the NYT. “Then one day, it was, ‘Pack it all up, shut the whole thing down.’ It was not standard procedure.”

Rich Newsome Dispels a Misperception About Airbags

Airbags are not “soft, pillowy devices,” says attorney Rich Newsome. They explode with extreme force in the event of a severe wreck to protect people from serious injury. But when the airbag explodes or deploys when it’s not supposed to, it can cause life-threatening injury.

“Defectos y defectos y defectos!!!!”

On March 30, 2011, Guillermo Apud, a supervisor at Takata’s Monclova plant, wrote an email with the subject line “Defectos y defectos y defectos!!!!” in which he explained that an automaker received an airbag inflator with improper welding.  He wrote, in part: We cannot be faced with findings/defects of this sort and NOT do ANYTHING One unwelded part = one less life, which means that we are NOT accomplishing the mission Remember that here WE SAVE LIVES with our products. The full email is in this Senate report on the Takata defect.

Patent Applications Reveal Knowledge of Moisture’s Effects on Compound

patent application filed in 1995 by a Takata research and development lab, Automotive Systems Laboratory, Inc., recognized that “one of the major problems with the use of” ammonium nitrate is that the ammonium nitrate crystals expand and contract and change shape when the temperature changes. “That is totally unacceptable…in air bag inflators,” the patent says, “because the burning characteristics would be altered such that the inflator would not operate properly or might even blow up because of the excess pressure generated.” A New York Times report further details patent applications that suggest Takata’s knowledge of ammonium nitrate’s susceptibility to moisture. In 2006, a patent application said that moisture might enter the ammonium nitrate propellant during manufacturing as well as after the inflator is in the car. And without a drying agent, the moisture could cause the inflator to rupture due to high internal pressure. These are just a few examples of reported evidence suggesting Takata was aware its airbags might be defective. See the following reports for more details on problems with Takata’s manufacturing process and its knowledge of ammonium nitrate’s dangers:
1. Danger Behind the Wheel: The Takata Airbag Crisis and How to Fix Our Broken Auto Recall Processby the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Office of Oversight and Investigations Minority Staff
2. Total Recall: Internal Documents Detail Takata’s Broken Safety Culture and the Need for a More Effective Recall Processby the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Office of Oversight and Investigations Minority Staff

Takata Filed For Bankruptcy

Takata Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 25, 2017. The company said filing for bankruptcy was necessary to continue supplying replacement airbags. “We’re in a very difficult situation, and we had to find ways to keep supplying our products,” said Takata President Shigehisa Takada, according to the Associated Press. “As a maker of safety parts for the automotive industry, our failure to maintain a stable supply would have a major impact across the industry.” Takata’s bankruptcy filing will not affect the recall. If your vehicle is subject to the recall, contact a local dealership to schedule a repair. You are still entitled to repair of your defective airbag despite Takata’s bankruptcy filing.

CNN Report Details Takata’s Bankruptcy Amidst Global Recall

A CNN report summarizes Takata’s 2017 bankruptcy filing as it faced crushing financial pressure from the global recall of its defective airbags. The Takata leadership is “disgraced” as the company grappled with “one of the worst auto safety scandals ever,” the report suggests.

Takata filed for bankruptcy in Delaware and estimated liabilities of $10 billion to $50 billion, reports Reuters. Takata’s Japanese parent company filed for protection in Tokyo as well.

The U.S.-based company Key Safety Systems purchased Takata for $1.6 billion. Under the agreement, Takata will continue to manufacture inflators that automakers will use to repair defective airbags that are part of the recall. Some of the money from the sale will go to automakers to reimburse them for the cost of the recall. Still, the automakers will still likely pick up a large portion of the bill themselves, reports the Associated Press.

Automakers Settle Class Action Lawsuits

Several automakers have agreed to settlements in class action lawsuits.  The settlements pay current and former owners or lessees of vehicles subject to the recall specified benefits, including residual distributions (i.e., general payments to class members), free rental cars, and reimbursement of expenses incurred to get vehicle repairs (e.g., lost wages, child care, towing, etc.). Below are details of the settlements agreed to by the respective automakers:

ELIGIBILITY
All persons who owned or leased a BMW vehicle subject to the recall on June 9, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a BMW vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through June 9, 2017.
All persons who owned or leased a Mazda vehicle subject to the recall on June 9, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a Mazda vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through June 9, 2017.
All persons who owned or leased a Subaru vehicle subject to the recall on June 9, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a Subaru vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through June 9, 2017.
All persons who owned or leased a Toyota vehicle subject to the recall on June 9, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a Toyota vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through June 9, 2017.
All persons who owned or leased a Nissan vehicle subject to the recall on September 19, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a Nissan vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through September 19, 2017.
All persons who owned or leased a Honda or Acura vehicle subject to the recall on September 19, 2017. All persons who previously owned or leased a Honda or Acura vehicle subject to the recall and sold or returned it after April 11, 2013 through September 19, 2017.
COMPENSATION
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.
Up to $250 in residual distribution. Compensation for expenses. Rental vehicle while getting repairs.

CNN Report Details How Takata’s Failure to Act Hurt the Company

A CNN report from 2015 shared analysts’ opinion that Takata’s failure to act quickly to address its defective airbags would damage the company’s future. Two years later, Takata would file for bankruptcy as automakers settled class action lawsuits with consumers.

The settlements do not cover those injured by the defective airbags. An injury lawsuit is separate from these class action settlements that address the expenses consumers incur while getting their airbags repaired.

Those injured by shrapnel from an exploding Takata airbag should speak with a lawyer about their legal options to recover compensation for their financial, physical, and emotional damages.

Takata Airbag Injury Lawsuits

Those who suffer injuries because of a defective Takata airbag can file a lawsuit seeking full compensation for expenses and losses related to their injuries and the accident. Recoverable damages may include:

Medical bills
Physical therapy
Loss of pension
Emergency treatment
Lost wages
Loss of employment benefits
Surgical bills
Reduced earning capacity
Other expenses
Victims of defective airbags and their families can also seek compensation for the emotional effects of the injuries. This includes:
Pain and suffering
Emotional distress
Disfigurement
Loss of enjoyment of life
Loss of consortium
Depression & anxiety
Did you suffer injuries you think might have been caused by a defective Takata airbag? Did you lose a loved one because of a defective airbag? Do you have questions about injury lawsuits?

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Takata Airbag Recall Lawsuit

Takata Recall Hits Florida Hardest; Most Injuries and Deaths in U.S.: The saga behind Takata’s lethal airbag inflators, which caused the largest recall in automobile industry history, continues to unfold in dramatic fashion. In the United States, Florida has been identified as the state with the most injuries and deaths linked to metal exploding from out of a faulty inflator. In the wake of the announcement last month, Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, is leading the charge to hold automakers accountable and asking that every recalled airbag inflator is replaced before the warmer summer months of July and August.

The explosive ammonium nitrate, used to set off the airbags in an accident, can become unstable over time, especially in hot climates like Florida and cause a rupture. In the United States; Texas, California, Georgia, and the U.S. territory Puerto Rico are the other locations with the highest number of deaths and injuries. In Florida, there have been 83 injuries and three deaths announced thus far. Since December 2014, the reported injuries in Florida have risen by nearly 400 percent.

“We still have a huge problem with getting these dangerous airbags replaced and out of the cars and off the highways,” said Sen. Nelson. “To stop these horrible tragedies, we have to get these vehicles fixed.”
Nelson called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure that the automakers replace all of the defective airbag inflators in Florida. Nelson claims that only 45 percent of the recalled vehicles in Florida have had their inflators replaced. That leaves 1.3 million with potentially lethal airbag inflators still being driven. Nelson pleaded with the NHTSA to make it happen by June 30th and to have the automakers post a plan of action online before it gets much hotter.

“These plans should include a commitment to get folks with a recall vehicle—get them in for service as quickly as possible and on a schedule that meets their needs. And a promise to provide people with rental cars . . . or alternate transportation,” said Sen. Nelson.

On June 1, 2018, Honda announced another fatality linked to a faulty Takata airbag inflator. The accident in question that led to the death of a driver in Malaysia occurred in May 2004, which indicates that more deaths may have occurred and have not yet been announced. In addition, last week, authorities in Australia added another 1.1 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags to the massive recall, now at well over 100 million inflators worldwide.

Nearly 30 people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured by a Takata inflator, yet many lethal airbag components are still on the road. Why? In part, because millions of drivers have never been contacted by their automaker or by the NHTSA and have no idea that they are driving a recalled vehicle because they are not the original owner.

If you are not the initial buyer of your vehicle, locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to see if your automobile has ever been recalled.

June 13, 2018 - 7th Person Dies from Takata Airbag in Malaysia

Takata airbags, which carry a risk of overpressurizing and exploding if the volatile ammonium nitrate inside is exposed to moisture and heat cycles over time, have so far been responsible for 23 driver deaths worldwide, with more expected. Seven of the fatalities occurred in Malaysia and all involved Honda’s 2003 to 2009 City model – the most recent in May 2018. Of the remaining 16 deaths, 15 were in the United States and one in Australia.

Honda vehicles were involved in all but two deaths – and those two U.S. deaths involved 2006 Ford Rangers, which contained the same type of inflator that killed the Honda drivers in Malaysia, which included a woman who was nine months pregnant. Her baby died two days later. The latest death in Malaysia occurred when a 2004 Honda City crashed into another vehicle and the airbag exploded, sending a metal shard from the canister that houses the ammonium nitrate into the driver’s throat.

To date, there have been more than 300 people injured by ruptures that occurred in recalled Takata airbags. These deaths and injuries highlight failures of the recall system which included manufacturers’ long delays in initiating the recalls, their use of outdated ownership and address information, and the lack of or delayed replacement part availability.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admonished many of the manufacturers for not doing enough to make sure airbags are replaced. In May 2018, NHTSA sent a letter to 12 major automakers, warning them that they had not met the December 2017 deadline for completing repairs in high-risk areas – such as Florida – that experience more humidity and heat fluctuations than other areas. The manufacturers included Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford. The targeted automakers had collectively replaced 65 percent of the affected airbags, leaving about 7 million dangerous airbags on the road.

In July 2018, NHTSA followed up the letter with an announcement urging all automakers involved in the recalls to publicize their plans for replacing all defective airbags and their websites and to be innovative in their efforts to reach owners who were at risk and may not have received the recall information.

To determine whether your vehicle has an unrepaired recall visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your Vehicle Information Number (VIN). If your vehicle has an open recall, make arrangements with your local dealer to have the free repairs done as soon as possible.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of a defective airbag, call the Takata airbag recall lawsuit lawyers at Newsome Melton. We are standing by at 888-380-2809 to set up your free consultation.

June 6, 2018 - Compensation Funds Available for Takata Airbag Rupture Victims

If you have been injured by a Takata airbag rupture, it can be hard to figure out what types of compensation are available to you as there are a few compensation funds working in tandem. The courts have appointed Eric Green as the Special Master for all of the funds. Below is a brief description of each.

Individual Restitution Fund

The individual Restitution Fund (IRF) was set up following Takata’s settlement of a criminal case filed by the with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Eastern District of Michigan. Takata acknowledged that it manipulated test results to hide ruptures that occurred in its testing and agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, of which $125 million went into the Individual Restitution Fund (IRF). The IRF is designed to compensate people who suffer personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one because their airbag inflator ruptured or the airbag deployed too aggressively – injuries from other causes are not compensable under this fund. Green is responsible for reviewing applications and documentation to determine whether an applicant is entitled to compensation and in what amount based on specific injury categories.

Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund (TATCTF)

The TATCTF was established as part of Takata’s bankruptcy plan of reorganization. It too compensates individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one because an airbag inflator ruptured or an airbag deployed aggressively. The difference is that the pool of money comes from the bankruptcy funds rather than the fund set up in the DOJ agreement. This fund is expected to have about $250 million available. Applicants can apply for both the IRF and TATCTF in one form. Applicants are eligible for compensation under both funds.

Participating Original Equipment Manufacturer (POEM)

All rupture-related claims involving a Honda or Acura vehicle will be automatically transferred, or channeled, into a separate compensation process. A POEM claim is the only claim available for incidents involving Honda or Acura vehicles – even lawsuits will be channeled into this system. Honda has assigned compensation values to specific types of injuries, with no consideration given to Honda’s alleged negligent actions.

There are deadlines by which you must file your claim, and there are a myriad of documents required. The Special Master recommends that you consult a lawyer to help you determine whether to file a claim and what type of claim to file, as well as how to answer some of the more complex legal questions. The Takata airbag personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Newsome Melton can answer your questions about the claims process and evaluate whether you might be eligible for compensation. Please call us at 888-380-2809 for a free consultation.

May 16, 2018 - Many Recalled Takata Airbags Remain in Central Florida Vehicles

According to Orlando.com, about 150,000 vehicles in the Orlando area still contain recalled Takata airbags that may explode metal shards when they deploy in a crash. Takata airbags, linked to 23 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide, are subject to recalls from 19 automakers who are required to replace more than 50 million of the defective safety devices.

Depending on the automaker and geographical location, between 25 percent and 50 percent of the affected airbags – totaling more than 22 million – have not been replaced. This is especially dangerous in states like Florida, where the high humidity and heat significantly increase the risk of rupture. In fact, Florida ranks first as the state with the most deaths and injuries, three and 83 respectively.

The recalled airbags contain the chemical compound ammonium nitrate, which is used as a propellant that is housed in a metal canister in the steering wheel or behind the passenger dash. In a crash, the propellant is ignited to rapidly generate gas which inflates the airbag cushion. But ammonium nitrate, used by Takata as cheap alternative to other more stable airbag chemicals, is volatile even under the best conditions, and highly sensitive to moisture and heat which degrades the propellant causing it to generate too much pressure too quickly. The excessive pressure can rupture the canister, spewing metal fragments into the vehicle and occupants. Some Takata airbags, like those in Honda and Acura vehicles made between 2001 and 2003 have an additional manufacturing defect, which lab tests have shown make them more likely to fail and rupture.

The millions of vehicles left unrepaired highlight failures of the recall system which include manufacturers’ long delays in initiating the recalls, their use of outdated ownership and address information, and the lack of or delayed replacement part availability.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admonished many of the manufacturers for not doing enough to make sure airbags are replaced. In May 2018, NHTSA sent a letter to 12 major automakers, warning them that they had not met the December 2017 deadline for completing repairs in high-risk, like Florida. The manufacturers included Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford.

In July 2018, NHTSA publicly urged all automakers involved in the recalls to publicize their plans for replacing all defective airbags and their websites and to be innovative in their efforts to reach owners who were at risk and may not have received the recall information.

To determine whether your vehicle has an unrepaired recall visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your Vehicle Information Number (VIN). If your vehicle has an open recall, make arrangements with your local dealer to have the free repairs done as soon as possible.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of a defective airbag, call the Takata airbag recall lawsuit lawyers at Newsome Melton. We are standing by at 888-221-5316 to set up your free consultation.

March 22, 2018 - Senators Hold Congressional Hearing to Examine Status of Takata Airbag Recall

As the number of potentially lethal Takata Corp. airbags continues to rise, U.S. senators held a congressional hearing earlier this week to address the status of the largest automotive recall in history. According to the findings of the hearing, around 21 million defective Takata airbags have been repaired or replaced. But that accounts for less than half of the 50 million recalled airbags, affecting approximately 37 million vehicles. And this does not take in to account the millions of airbags that are still expected to be added to the massive recall.

Elected lawmakers questioned the rate of repairs and the actions of both regulators and the 19 automakers affected by the recall. Earlier this year, Ford Motor Co. announced a second death from a ruptured Takata airbag, which occurred over the summer of 2017 in West Virginia. This most recent death raises the total number of fatalities connected to Takata airbags to 22 worldwide. In addition, there have been more than 200 reported injuries connected to the rupturing airbags.

More than a year ago, Takata agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for concealing the extent of their faulty airbags and pay $1 billion to be distributed to affected individuals, the U.S. government, and the automakers. Six months later, the Japanese seatbelt and airbag maker filed for bankruptcy and is in the process of selling their business to Key Safety Systems, owned by Ningbo Joyson Electric Corp, located in China.

But in the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took over the recall to ensure it was carried out to completion. Senator Bill Nelson, who serves on the Commerce Committee that held the hearing, does not believe the NHTSA is doing a satisfactory job.

“NHTSA still seems to be playing a game of regulatory whack-a-mole and twiddling its thumbs when it comes to actually enforcing the coordinated recall approach and benchmarks for automakers,” said Nelson. “Overall, these completion rates are disappointing—unacceptable—and remain a cause of great concern.”

Of the 19 affected automakers, Honda Motor Co. was Takata’s largest client. Honda claims to have replaced or repaired around 14 million of the 18.5 million recalled airbags.

February 22, 2018 - Multistate Reaches Settlement with Takata over Defective Airbags

In a February 22 press release, Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office announced a settlement between the attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia, and TK Holdings, Takata’s USA subsidiary over defective airbag allegations.

The multistate investigation sprang from allegations that Takata hid safety issues associated with its airbag systems, which auto manufacturers installed in millions of vehicles.

“TK Holdings, Inc.’s parent company pled guilty to manipulating data and submitting false and misleading reports to auto manufacturers,” the press release stated. TK Holdings knew about the airbag ruptures in 2004 but failed to recall the airbag inflators or notify officials or the public of the dangerous implications until November of 2014.

According to the release, Takata has agreed to pay a $650 million civil penalty and reimburse the multistate for its investigative costs. In light of Takata’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the limited amount of funds Takata has, the multistate agrees to prioritize financial recovery to consumers over the company’s penalty.

The settlement agreement includes a number of stipulations Takata must abide by, including 1) not representing its airbags as safe for use unless reinforced by reliable evidence, 2) not falsifying or manipulating testing data, and 3) cooperating with automakers to ensure replacement airbags are quickly made available.

If you or your family member suffered injuries due to a defective airbag, contact our injury attorneys at Newsome Melton to discuss potential options for compensation: 888-380-2809.

January 9, 2018 - GM Files Third Request to Avoid Takata Airbag Recalls

On January 9, 2018, GM filed its third Defect Information Report (DIR) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) regarding its vehicles equipped with Takata airbags, according to GM’s annual Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) report. Along with the DIR, GM filed a third petition for inconsequentiality, which has yet to be publicly released.

The third petition argues the same point as the second petition, which stated: “GM has petitioned the [NHTSA] for a decision that, because of differences in inflator design and vehicle integration, the equipment defect determined to exist by Takata is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety in the GMT900 vehicles, and that GM should therefore be relieved of its notification and remedy obligations.”

In other words, because GM alleges that it integrates the defective airbags into its automobiles in a unique manner, the NHTSA should not require GM to recall vehicles with Takata airbags. “We do not believe there is a safety defect at this time in any unrecalled GM vehicles within scope of the Takata DIRs,” GM stated in its SEC report.

GM also stated that its company-funded research “supported the belief that the vehicles’ unique design and integration mitigates against inflator propellant, degradation and rupture risk,” the underlying reasons behind the massive Takata airbag recall.

The DIRs and petitions involve various GMT900 vehicles including the following:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500
  • GMC Sierra 2500/3500
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Avalanche
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Yukon XL
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • Cadillac Escalade EXT

The NHTSA has yet to rule on GM’s petitions, and the company does not have to recall any vehicles until the agency makes its ruling. If the NHTSA decides that GM must recall all vehicles with defective Takata airbags, GM estimates the company cost at $1 billion.

If you or your family member was involved in an accident that was caused by a defective auto part, contact our product liability attorneys at Newsome Melton to discuss your legal options: 888-221-5316.