For more than a week we have been learning details of what may be one of the biggest recalls in automotive history. The potential car accidents linked to it are especially scary because the recall is focused on one of the most basic safety features of modern automobiles: the airbags.
As the Associated Press reported earlier today, a recall of cars with airbags made by Takata, a Japan-based supplier of parts to numerous car companies, is now thought to effect “more than 12 million cars… (including) dozens of models made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota dating to the 2001 model year.” As a result of the recall order AP reports that AutoNation, the nationwide chain that is the country’s largest car dealer, says it will stop selling the affected makes and models. The company’s CEO also went on record criticizing the car manufacturers “confusing and incoherent” handling of the situation.
As the news agency reports, the Takata-made airbags “can inflate with too much force, blowing apart metal canisters and sending shards flying at drivers and passengers. Safety advocates say that four people have died due to the problem.” The article goes on to note that “government investigators believe that prolonged exposure to moisture in the air makes the air bag inflator chemicals burn too fast, creating too much pressure.”
Much of the confusion surrounding the recall stems from the lack of coordination among the car manufacturers themselves. “Some automakers have limited recalls to a few Southern states with high humidity, while others have expanded them” AP reports. The story, carried in today’s Oregonian, quotes the AutoNation CEO calling for the government to get more involved, specifically to establish consistent recall standards and to force the manufacturers to cooperate with Takata and with each other. That seems like a pretty good dose of common sense, but, according to AP “the agency says it doesn’t have data to support that.”
As an Oregon car accident victims lawyer I will be watching future developments in this case closely. Like the GM recalls earlier this year where it often seemed that one piece of bad news for consumers led right to another, one senses that anything this widespread – stretched over ten car companies and nearly 15 years of car-making – is far from over, and that new developments are still to come.
AP via The Oregonian: Airbag recall list: Automation halts sales of dozens of models of used cars