Here we go again. Officials with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) just announced another expansion of the Takata airbag recall. Already the biggest automotive recall in history, the fiasco just swelled again, to the tune of 5 million additional vehicles (bringing the total to some 24 million) registered by US owners and believed to be outfitted with defective Takata airbag inflators.
The latest move is prompted in part by the death of the driver of a 2006 Ford Ranger last month in South Carolina. According to court documents, a metal piece from the inflator canister penetrated the driver’s neck once the airbag deployed. That fits with details of other deaths and injuries blamed on the issue. Recalled airbag inflators use ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the airbags upon collision. But test show that the chemical can deteriorate under prolonged exposure to airborne moisture. This causes the ammonium nitrate to burn too fast and blow apart the metal canister designed to contain the explosion. As a result, metal shrapnel flies into the vehicle’s cabin, inflicting stab-like wounds in drivers and passengers.
The latest death is the ninth in the US and the 10th worldwide confirmed to be caused by the defective airbag inflators. And safety officials suspect the recall may ultimately get even bigger. They’re still working to determine just which models will be recalled, but if you drive an Audi, Volkswagen or Mercedes-Benz or Mazda, you’ll want to follow coverage. Of course, we here at E3 Spark Plugs are keeping up to date and will let you know as soon as the recalled models are decided.
In the meantime, if you drive a car or truck that’s already been recalled, take it seriously and get your ride fixed asap.