Toyota orders dealers to disclose Takata airbags on new models

June 13, 2016

A little over a week ago, we told you that Takata was still producing airbag inflators using potentially deadly ammonium nitrate, and that those devices were still being installed on U.S. vehicles--even though the vehicles will all have to be recalled by 2018 to have the inflators replaced.

Now, Toyota has ordered dealers to inform customers of the problem and to warn them about the impending recall.

Up 'til now

Over the past several years, it's become clear that millions of Takata airbags are unsafe. That's because the company designed the airbags to use ammonium nitrate during deployment, and ammonium nitrate can become destabilized when exposed to heat and moisture. As a result, scores of Takata airbags have exploded during deployment, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 100.

Takata has dragged its feet throughout the entire ordeal. The Japanese supplier refused to cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation, insisting throughout that ammonium nitrate is perfectly safe.

Last year, the company changed its tune a bit and finally agreed to stop using ammonium nitrate. Takata also agreed to a much wider recall of airbags that would be carried out through 2018, and it promised to declare all airbags using ammonium nitrate to be unsafe, unless it could prove otherwise by 2019--something Takata now seems unlikely to do.

Recent developments

And yet, the company that refuses to file for bankruptcy also refuses to stop making airbag ammonium nitrate inflators without any sort of drying agent. Those inflators are being installed on new and recent models, including:

  • 2016 Audi TT
  • 2017 Audi R8
  • 2015 Lexus 350C
  • 2015 and 2016 Lexus GX 460 
  • 2015 Lexus IS 250C
  • 2016 and 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • 2015 Scion xB
  • 2015 and 2016 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2016 Volkswagen CC

After those and other automakers, including Fiat Chrysler, were criticized by members of Congress, Toyota chose to be proactive. The automaker has instructed U.S. dealers to tell shoppers about any airbag inflators that use ammonium nitrate and to warn them that their vehicle will be recalled before the end of 2018.

U.S. Senators have praised Toyota's actions. When and if other car companies follow suit, we'll let you know.

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