Salvaged Takata Airbags Making Their Way in Vehicles

The largest automotive recall in U.S. history still has motorists wondering if their Takata airbags will explode and shoot shrapnel through their vehicles. But, another set of unsuspecting motorists might not know they’re in danger.

Since 2013, a national spotlight has been placed on the dangers surrounding faulty Takata airbags. What’s been lacking from the conversation is a critical safety issue: the grave danger of used or salvaged airbags manufactured by Japan-based Takata.

“Used car dealers and body shops will ‘resurrect’ abandoned Takata airbags and put them in other vehicles,” said Langdon & Emison partner David Brose. “Since the first recalls were announced, Takata and auto manufacturers have failed to sufficiently track the millions of vehicles with dangerous airbags they have recalled and replaced, including those in salvage yards.”

According to Brose, 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 worse, consumers have no way of knowing they are purchasing vehicles equipped with deadly airbags.

Motorists can be severely injured by salvaged Takata airbags, even in minor fender-benders. Langdon & Emison had a case where a used Takata airbag exploded and shot metal shards into the throat of the driver. In these types of cases, clients have no idea the airbags in their vehicles are salvaged and under recall.

The Defect

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 15 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 a severe shortage of replacement parts leaves tens of millions of airbags still to be fixed. Unfortunately, more injuries will occur.

About Langdon & Emison

Langdon & Emison is recognized as one of the nation’s leading personal injury law firms, having taken on some of the world’s largest corporations on behalf of injured people and their families in courtrooms from coast to coast. Langdon & Emison represented the plaintiff in Baker vs. General Motors, a landmark lawsuit where for the first time evidence was admitted into court proving an automaker’s deliberate choice of profits over human safety. With offices in Lexington and Kansas City (Mo.), St. Louis, and Chicago, the firm has earned a national reputation as a leader in auto defect cases, trucking accidents and a full array of personal injury litigation.