Auto insurance

Two-thirds of defective airbags yet to be fixed

Thursday, June 8, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

driver's side airbags deployed in carU.S. Senators are demanding to know why only 36% of 46 million vehicles with defective airbags have been repaired.

Takata airbag inflators were found to be defective more than 10 years ago, with the first recall affecting 4,000 cars in 2008. Subsequent recalls involve models from popular manufacturers such as Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda (Takata's largest customer), Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagon, among others.

Takata inflators use ammonium nitrate, intended to fill airbags in a strong but controlled explosion. Those airbags can explode violently when exposed over time to humidity and high temperature. Takata airbags have been linked to at least 11 deaths and more than 180 injuries.

The New York Times reported in May that replacement parts remain in short supply, and many consumers have not responded to recall notices.

USA map showing Takata airbag recall zonesThe Northwest and other northern states are not yet a high priority in the airbag recalls, prioritized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Southern states with higher temperatures and humidity fall under NHTSA's top-target "zone A," including California, Texas, and Florida.

Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, because of lower humidity and temperature cycles, are in second-priority zone B with mid-nation states.

Zone C includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, and 21 other northern states.

If you'd rather not wait for a recall notice, you can try to learn if your car has a faulty airbag.

  1. VIN plate on front dashboard of carFind your vehicle identification number (VIN), likely on the front edge of your dash or the end of your driver's door.

  2. Enter your VIN in NHTSA's online recall database. Or…

  3. Check NHTSA's list of affected vehicles.

  4. If you find your car, contact a local dealership and ask to get it fixed.

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