Recalled Takata airbags still being used in new vehicles, Senate investigation reveals

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by Eric Pearson

A Senate investigation has revealed that four automakers are continuing to sell vehicles equipped with potentially defective airbag parts involved in the Takata recall. The investigation by the Senate Commerce Committee Democrats found that Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen have continued to sell new cars with Takata ammonium-nitrate airbag inflators whose lack of a chemical drying agent could make them vulnerable to accidental explosion despite having agreed to replace the potentially defective parts by 2018.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the recall of 24 million vehicles with Takata airbags because of defective inflators—known as SDI or PSDI-5 inflators—that could lead to accidental explosions. These explosions could send metal fragments from the airbag flying into the vehicle, injuring or killing drivers or passengers. The defective airbags made by Takata have already been linked to at least 13 deaths and about 100 injuries worldwide, including 10 deaths in the U.S. NHTSA estimates that the Takata airbag recall could eventually include 60 million vehicles, or about one in every four cars in the U.S.

Two out of the four automakers that have continued to sell cars equipped with the recalled Takata airbags (Mitsubishi and Volkswagen) provided the Senate investigators with specific vehicle models that are being equipped with the potentially defective parts. These vehicles include the 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the 2016 Volkswagen CC, the 2016 Audi TT, and the 2017 Audi R8. Neither Fiat Chrysler nor Toyota provided the committee with a list of vehicles that were being sold with the recalled Takata airbag parts.

Customers who purchased one of the Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, or Volkswagen vehicles equipped with one of the recalled Takata airbags will need to have the defective inflators on their vehicles replaced by the 2018 deadline for the recall. Although automakers are not required to stop using the recalled Takata airbags before the 2018 deadline, the fact that these products continue to be used in new vehicles raises fresh concerns for consumers about the safety of their vehicles.

The Senate investigation also found that 2.1 million of the 24 million Takata airbags that have already been recalled were replaced with the same defective parts involved in the recall. Investigators said that these parts will also have to be replaced by the 2018 recall deadline.

In a statement, Toyota stated that despite the Senate investigation, it was not obligated to stop using the recalled Takata parts because “these non-desiccated inflators are not subject to a current recall.” A Mitsubishi official said that the company was in the process of working with a supplier to develop a replacement inflator that would replace the Takata parts; it is expected to be ready in early 2017. Volkswagen—which is currently embroiled in another scandal involving emissions cheating on VW and Audi diesel models—said in a statement that the company was “following the guidelines, as established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to replace affected Takata airbags.”

Lawsuit over Takata Airbags Linked to Serious Injuries, Deaths

Several personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed on behalf of drivers or passengers who were injured or killed as a result of being struck by metal shrapnel that was ejected during a violent airbag explosion caused by the defective Takata airbags. Many of the deceased individuals suffered severed arties caused by metal fragments from the exploding airbags. Takata and Honda have agreed to undisclosed settlements in lawsuits filed by the families of at least six individuals who were killed as a result of metal fragments ejected by an exploding Takata airbag in a Honda vehicle.

In addition to the millions of Honda vehicles involved in the Takata recall, cars sold by Honda, Toyota, Dodge, Ford, and other automakers have also been recalled due to faulty airbags. A list of vehicles recalled by Takata is available on our website.

If you are the owner of a vehicle involved in the Takata recall, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to the accidental explosion of a Takata airbag, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against Takata or the manufacturer of the vehicle. The first step in taking legal action is to secure the assistance of experienced legal counsel who can guide you through the process of filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and knowledge to pursue product liability claims against Takata or any of the major auto manufacturers. We also have the financial resources to handle even the most complex cases from beginning to end. There are many instances when we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. Our attorneys are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

For a free legal consultation and to find out more about filing a vehicle crashworthiness lawsuit, contact the attorneys of Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.