The Takata airbag recall has made national headlines for several years, placing an important spotlight on the dangers surrounding the deadly airbags. We’ve heard less about a critical safety issue putting motorists at extreme risk of injury or worse: the grave danger of abandoned or used airbags manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata.
When a vehicle is damaged in a crash and declared a total loss by an insurance company the car is given a salvage title, rebuilt and resold. Salvage yards will pull a Takata airbag inflator from another car and place it in the salvaged vehicle, essentially putting a ticking time bomb right in front of a driver’s body.
Even in minor crahses, a resurrected Takata airbag can severely injure motoritsts. Our law firm handled a case where a used Takata airbag exploded and shot metal shards into the windpipe of the driver. In these types of cases, clients do not know they’re driving or riding in vehicles equipped with defective airbags under recall.
Since the first recalls were announced in April 2013, Takata and auto manufacturers have failed to sufficiently track the millions of vehicles with these dangerous airbags they have recalled and replaced, including those in salvage yards. As a result, these dangerous airbags find their way into vehicles being operated on U.S. roadways.
Ammonium nitrate, the chemical used to fuel what is supposed to be a controlled explosion to inflate the bag, is housed in a metal canister designed to contain the explosion. The chemical can deteriorate and become unstable, causing the propellant to burn too fast, blow apart the metal canister and shoot shrapnel into the occupant compartment.
At least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the U.S. have been linked to defective Takata airbags. An estimated 50 million Takata airbags installed in U.S. vehicles have been recalled but only 43 percent have been replaced, which means, unfortunately, more injuries will occur.