A nationwide recall of Takata airbags was issued in May 2015, but far too many of the potentially dangerous units remain on the road. It’s time to see if your car has one of them.
About 15.4 million vehicles have not yet had their defective airbag inflators repaired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Because some vehicles have more than one airbag, the total number of bags covered by the recall is closer to 16.6 million.
Until they’re repaired, those airbags pose a threat to drivers and passengers. When they deploy in a crash, they can send bits of shrapnel hurtling toward vehicle occupants. Sixteen people have been killed by defective Takata airbags and more than 250 have been injured since 2009.
The repair work itself can usually be completed within a few hours, and while that’s not necessarily convenient, it’s a small sacrifice to protect you and your passengers. The best part? It won’t cost you anything.
As the nation’s leading traffic safety advocate, AAA is asking everyone to check the status of their vehicle. Determining if your vehicle is included in the recall is simple. Just visit nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN is a 17-character ID unique to your car or truck. You can find it on the driver’s side dashboard near the bottom of the windshield. It’s also on the vehicle registration and insurance card.
When you enter your VIN on the NHTSA recall site, you can learn instantly if the airbags in your vehicle need to be repaired. If it is covered by the nationwide recall, you should contact a dealer and schedule the repair. There is no charge for the repair, but it must be done by an authorized dealer.
To find a dealership that is also a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, visit aaa.com/autorepair. AAA-certified shops undergo rigorous inspections and provide members with discounts, longer warranties and peace of mind support.
The NHTSA website is equally useful if you’re looking to buy a car. By entering the car’s VIN, you can determine if it has any outstanding recall issues. Those too would be repaired by an authorized dealer at no charge.
The Takata airbags affected by the recall contain a faulty inflator that can degrade and, during a crash, cause a rupture in the airbag itself. The risk is greater in areas that experience high heat and humidity. In the warmest parts of the country, chemical propellants in the inflator may break down within six to nine years. In cooler, drier regions, it may take 15 to 20 years.
The recall involves 19 different automakers and includes more than 150 model and year combinations. Airbags in all of the vehicles are potentially dangerous, but NHTSA says the airbags in the vehicles listed below “show a far higher risk” of rupture. These models shouldn’t be driven, according to NHTSA, unless you are taking them in for repairs:
If your vehicle is included in the recall, your dealer can tell you if parts are immediately available. Early on in the recall, parts were scarce, but NHTSA now says that shouldn’t be an issue. If your dealer says it can’t quickly get parts, NHTSA recommends contacting the vehicle’s manufacturer and alerting them to the problem.