The U.S. government recently issued an urgent warning to the 4.7 million Americans who own cars with defective air bags. These air bags were recalled after at least four deaths. Anyone who owns a car with a recalled air bag should take it into a dealership immediately. Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm detail this recall further and what cars are affected.
The defective air bags do not inflate properly when deployed, causing metal fragments to spray into the car on impact. The air bags are manufactured by Takata, a major supplier to automakers worldwide. The following is a list of all vehicle models affected by this recall:
- Toyota – 2002 – 2004 Lexus SC and Toyota Sequoia 2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla, Corolla Matrix, Toyota Tundra, and Pontiac Vibe
- Honda – 2001 – 2007 Accord, 4 cylinder 2001 – 2002 Accord, 6 cylinder 2001 – 2005 Civic 2002 – 2006 CR-V 2003 – 2011 Element 2002 – 2004 Odyssey 2003 – 2007 Pilot 2006 Ridgeline 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX 2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
- Mazda – 2003 – 2004 Mazda6 2004 Mazda RX-8
- BMW – 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan and 3 Series Sports Wagon 2000 – 2006 3 Series Coup and 3 Series Convertible 2001 – 2006 M3 Coup and M3 Convertible
- Nissan – 2001 – 2003 Maxima, Pathfinder, and Infiniti I30/I35 2002 – 2003 Sentra and Infiniti QX4 2003 Infiniti FX
- General Motors – 2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre, Buick Rendezvous, Cadillac DeVille, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevrolet Venture, GMC Envoy, GMC Envoy XL, Oldsmobile Aurora, Oldsmobile Bravada, Oldsmobile Silhouette, Pontiac Bonneville, Pontiac Montana
If any car owners are unsure if their car is subject to this recall, they may check at www.safercar.gov. On this website consumers can enter their vehicle’s VIN number to see if it has a faulty air bag.
This is not the first recall for Takata-made auto parts this year. The company also makes seat belts, steering wheels, and other parts for most major automakers. This recall is uniquely severe because the metal fragments spray into cars when the air bags try to deploy, causing injuries that appear initially to be stab wounds.
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The official count of deaths caused by these exploding air bags is four, but that number is expected to grow substantially. One of the victims, Hien Tran, did not receive a letter notifying her of the recall until one week after her death. She was in her Honda Accord when she crashed, causing the air bags to deploy and sending shrapnel throughout her car, hitting her in the neck. The detectives called in to investigate her case initially ruled her death a homicide as the wounds in her neck were apparent stabbings.
Unfortunately, even if Tran had known about her defective air bags before her accident, it is unlikely she could have gotten her Accord fixed. Honda recently announced that it did not have enough parts to fix all the cars immediately. Importantly, the deputy administrator of the NHTSA warned that the above list of recalled vehicles is not complete.
So far this year the auto industry has issued recalls for more than 50 million vehicles. To put this in perspective, the record for most vehicles recalled in a single year is 30 million, which occurred in 2004. Takata-made air bags have been a particularly large problem. An investigation by the New York Times in September 2014 illuminated failure from both Takata and Honda to take safety measures before issuing recalls. Federal officials received at least 140 reports of Takata air bag explosions before the company decided to take any action.
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Even if consumers bring their vehicles into dealerships, actually getting their air bags fixed may be difficult. Replacement parts for millions of vehicles are currently unavailable, and will not be ready for several weeks. Honda is sending out recall letters to consumers in waves, as parts become available. Priority is reportedly place in areas of high humidity, such as Florida, because these climates cause the air bag more vulnerable to explosion.
Making matters worse, Honda cannot even give an estimate on when all air bags will be fixed. As previously stated, anyone in high-humidity areas have highest priority, and automakers are making special efforts to have these vehicles fixed first. Despite this apparent effort, it is clear that automakers avoided issuing this recall until it was absolutely mandatory. There was much these giant companies could have done to fix this, had they acted immediately on reports of fatalities and serious injuries from exploding air bags. Because they did not, these defects will undoubtedly cause many, many more deaths and injuries in unsuspecting and innocent consumers.
Auto recall lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience handling cases involving defective and dangerous vehicles. If you were seriously injured in an accident caused by a recalled auto part, contact our firm immediately. We provide free case reviews to potential clients nationwide, and we can travel to you so you can focus on getting well.