2004 Toyota Corolla XRSEnlarge Photo
The number of vehicles affected by faulty Takata-brand airbags has just grown by 247,000, thanks to a new recall from Toyota. The recall affects five Toyota and Lexus models, and even one from Pontiac.
Over the past few years, automakers around the globe have recalled more than 12 million vehicles manufactured during the early 2000s due to Takata's faulty airbags. Tests show that the propellant used in the devices is too strong, which can cause the bags to rip during deployment. In numerous cases, those rips have been accompanied by shrapnel from the airbag systems, which has shot through the passenger cabin. At least three deaths have been attributed to the devices in the U.S. alone.
According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this new recall affects the following models:
However, not every vehicle from those model-years is affected. The airbag problem appears most dangerous in regions with high humidity. As a result, NHTSA states that the recall affects "vehicles that were originally sold, or are currently registered, in high absolute humidity areas of southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa."
Toyota will handle recalls of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, while General Motors will oversee repairs on Pontiac models. Toyota is expected to begin sending recall notices to owners no later than this Saturday, October 25. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a Toyota or Lexus dealer, who will replace the passenger-side airbag at no charge. According to NHTSA, "If a replacement inflator is not available, as an interim measure, the dealer will disable the front passenger air bag and advise the customer not to use the front passenger seat until a replacement inflator is installed."
GM hasn't indicated when it will send out recall notices, nor has the company offered details of the planned fix for the Vibe.
If you believe that you own one of the affected vehicles, you're encouraged to contact Toyota customer service at 800-331-4331 or GM customer service 800-521-7300. Alternately, you can call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about recall campaign #14V655000.
* The Matrix and the Vibe were co-developed by Toyota and GM and produced side-by-side at the former NUMMI plant in California, which was shuttered and subsequently bought by Tesla.