Killed by Takata; Denied Access by the NHTSA

Honda Takata recall

Two-thirds of the airbag recalls involve Honda vehicles.

Honda Takata recall

This seventh generation Honda Accord is currently being recalled.

The news this week turned especially gruesome as the New York Times shared the account of a dying Florida woman laying in a hospital bed who appeared to have stab wounds in her neck. On further investigation it was revealed that an airbag likely deployed, but also spewed forth pieces of metal shrapnel that eventually took her life.

Following the Times’ story the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded its recall to include 7.8 million vehicles from 10 different manufacturers. Two-thirds of those recalls involve Honda models; every affected vehicle contains airbags furnished by Japanese parts supplier Takata.

NHTSA Website Goes Down

After issuing its announcement, the NHTSA’s website denied access to consumers seeking further information, specifically people attempting to verify whether their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matched the latest recall. The search function was not working and was still experiencing problems through early Thursday. The NHTSA apologized for the downtime and also for supplying an earlier list that inaccurately included Nissan models not under recall. That list has since been updated and has been shared here.

Meanwhile, Takata and Honda are both facing a monumental public relations crisis as regulators confirm that the two companies had known about the airbag problem since 2004, what has resulted in two confirmed deaths and dozens of injuries. If confirmed, the Florida woman’s death would raise that toll to three.

Ford Ranger Takata recall

The Takata recall also includes 2004 Ford Rangers.

The Current Takata List

The NHTSA’s Takata recall list is current as of Oct. 23, 2014. The vehicles under recall are as follows:

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

NHTSAFord: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra

Immediate Service Pushed

The NHTSA is urging consumers to take immediate action and have their cars serviced. However, some manufacturers do not have enough parts on hand — it could take weeks or longer before repairs are made. In the meantime manufacturers, such as Toyota, have said that owners of affected models would be notified by first-class mail this week to return their vehicles to their dealer for repairs.

Under the recall Toyota says that it “will replace the front passenger airbag inflator with a newly manufactured one.” However, if a replacement part is not available, the dealer has been instructed to disable the airbag and install a hang tag on the glove box to serve as a warning that the front passenger seat should not be occupied until the repair has been made.

Toyota Corolla Recall

Select ninth generation Toyota Corollas are under a recall.

Consumers Union Weighs In

Not everyone is satisfied with the NHTSA’s handling of the recall. Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, urged the government to expand the recall to cover vehicles beyond its current geographic area.

In a letter to NHTSA, George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, wrote, “The recalls were originally focused on vehicles registered in areas with ‘high absolute humidity,’ but the dangers could be far broader. We believe it is essential to ensure the widest possible public awareness of this hazard, and for NHTSA, automakers, and suppliers to provide consumers with prompt and effective means to address the hazard.”

Beyond disabling airbags, Consumers Union has asked the NHTSA whether regulators were looking at other options such as providing loaner cars to owners or vouchers for rental cars. CU also pointed out that the recall process for the defective inflators began more than 18 months ago and asked the agency to explain what it was doing to ensure that car manufacturers, Takata and potential other suppliers were manufacturing and supplying “safe replacement parts for all cars that need them.”

Tens of Millions of Recalls

This year will go down as the year of the recall as more than 50 million vehicles have bee recalled to date. GM has recalled about half that many as it battles its own PR crisis. Even so, the automaker reported net income of $1.4 billion for the third quarter.

See AlsoRecall Roundup: October 2014