Automotive manufacturers have made some painful mistakes over the years in a bid to protect your car. You have to look at the history of car recalls in order to believe some of them. Chevy sent trucks out into the world with gas tanks that ruptured and exploded with the slightest contact in the 70s and at least two different manufacturers have recalled cars for “unintended acceleration” and brake failures.
The largest recall in automotive history, however, makes those recalls look like minor oversights. Faulty airbag inflators manufactured by Tanaka began a long recall process for Lexus and Toyota in 2009. And the Takata airbag scandal isn’t even over. Another 1.7 million vehicles have now been added to the biggest recall in automotive history — fresh warnings are coming in and no brand is safe.
Luxury Manufacturers Trapped in Takata Bubble
Tesla, Ferrari, Daimler Vans, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have all been caught in the crosshairs of the biggest single defect the car industry has ever seen. It is a salutary lesson in using standard parts, but it’s also a clear warning to consumers.
Even the best names in the industry are now involved in a scandal that could eventually affect up to 70 million separate vehicles manufactured from 2002-2015. Faulty units have been found in Ferraris, Mercedes, Hondas, and Toyotas, proving that automotive recalls can transcend class, performance, and budget.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) admits that notifying the drivers is a Herculean task in its own right. Many drivers simply don’t know they are driving a potential hazard and contacting them is half the battle.
Notices in the mail don’t always get the attention they deserve, and Americans get into their car each and every day, blissfully unaware of the lethal defect in a part that is meant to protect their car and their life. It’s a clear indicator that you need to check and see if your car could be recalled for a Takata airbag inflator or something else entirely.
An Unsafe Safety Device
It may come as a surprise that the Takata airbag inflator at the heart of this painful episode is so utterly unspectacular; in fact, it’s a part that virtually the whole industry has used. Regardless, a manufacturing defect means they can potentially explode, sending lethal shrapnel flying through the car.
The inflator is a simple metal cartridge loaded with a wafer structure containing propellant. Ammonium Nitrate-based propellant was cheaper, but relied on a chemical drying agent that simply didn’t work. Over time, especially in hot conditions, that left the inflator prone to malfunction.
At least 23 people have died and 300 people have been injured by the defective airbag inflator, and it has taken too much time for the sheer scope of the issue to come to light.
At first, 12 million vehicles from eight manufacturers were thought to be affected. Now that has spread like a virus to 19 manufacturers, 37 million affected vehicles, totaling 49.5 million actuators that need to be replaced. The supply chain simply can’t cope with this much demand. That means people are still driving potentially unsafe cars and could be for a while.
The NHTSA has stepped in to allocate the available replacements in areas with relatively high numbers of airbag-related incidents. It’s a massive undertaking and communication with the owners is one of the real obstacles. That’s one of the real takeaways.
Something New Every Day
You might be amazed at the number of recalls that actually happen on a monthly basis. 2017 represented a four-year low for automotive recalls, and the total number affected was still 30.7 million. The sobering fact is that this number is 74 percent higher than the total number of cars and trucks delivered to consumers.
So, there’s a good chance there’s actually an open recall notice on your car, and it’s certainly something you should check on a routine basis. Don’t leave this one in your dealer’s hands. Your safety and your family’s lives are too important to risk on simple miscommunication and regular checks can put your mind at rest.
Make it a part of your regular vehicle maintenance check to log on to the NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov, enter your car’s VIN number, and make sure there are no outstanding “warrants” on your car. Get in touch with Protect My Car today to find out more about how you can best protect your vehicle.