The U.S. federal government has confirmed an eighth death due to schrapnel from Takata airbags—this time, to a teen driver at the wheel of a Honda Accord that was already under recall at the time of the accident, this past summer.
That marks the ninth death worldwide attributed to the issue, which has been attributed to about 100 injuries in the U.S.
The issue concerns inflators that can rupture in a fashion not originally intended, deploying with excessive force, turning the metal inflator casing into shrapnel, which was propelled at occupants.
Damage done, damages levied
On November 3, Takata agreed to pay a federal fine of $70 million, as well as a series of terms that would include phasing out the problematic ammonium nitrate propellant type and firing employees associated with a cover-up that lasted years. If it doesn’t comply it could be subject to an additional $130 million.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, a U.S. judge rejected a claim to end a class-action lawsuit concerning the issue, against Honda and Takata.
Takata logo (photo by Flickr user jo.schz)
Honda owns a 1.2-percent stake in Takata and had been its biggest customer until this year, when the automaker said that it was aware that Takata had manipulated test data concerning the airbag inflator issue.
Honda had started recalling vehicles due to the inflator issue back in November 2008, adding more vehicles in 2009, while a NHTSA probe was opened in November 2009.
The issue covers about 34 million airbags, in vehicles reaching back to the 2000 model year and up to the 2011 model year in some cases. It includes some models from BMW, FCA (Chrysler), Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. And just this week, the effort was expanded to more vehicles: the 2005-2008 Mazda 6, 2002-2004 Honda CR-V, and 2005-2008 Subaru Outback and Legacy models.
Priorities, for fixes that could take years
The recall effort, which requires the manufacture of new airbag components and a rather time-consuming installation by the dealership, could take years. Because the issue has a higher chance of becoming deadly and injurious with time and prolonged exposure to high humidity, the government has organized recall fixes into priority groups, with some of the older vehicles that have been located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and other territories earning top priority for fixes at the dealership.
Check the federal government’s list of makes and models affected by the airbag issue here, and if you see yours listed, use their VIN lookup tool to see if your exact vehicle is involved in the recall.
Even if you’ve already checked that site earlier in the year, check again, as the government has added more groupt to the list this fall and will likely add a few hundred thousand more vehicles before the effort is completed.