The Takata airbag recall affects 34 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. It’s the largest auto recall in U.S. history and it’s a serious one. Despite the best efforts of automakers to reach out to consumers who own affected cars, roughly two-thirds of those cars still need repairs.
The reason for the recall is a defect in the airbag inflators. Rather than simply inflating your airbag when you’re involved in a collision, the inflators themselves explode sending metal shrapnel directly at your face. Think about the speed and force at which airbags inflate and imagine pieces of metal coming at your face the same way.
The defective inflators are linked to 13 deaths in the U.S. and hundreds of injuries. It’s a deadly defect that owners shouldn’t wait to repair, yet there are a huge number of vehicles still on the road with the defective parts.
Of the 46 million inflators in need of replacement, there are 25 million still out there waiting for the work to be completed according to a recent independent report. Automakers have been sending notices to their customers, but it’s often difficult to figure out who owns all of these cars. The recalled vehicles include some models more than ten years old. Those may have been sold multiple times since they were new, leaving automakers contacting someone who doesn’t even own that car anymore.
To combat that problem, automakers and the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration are getting creative with emails, snail mail, door-to-door canvassing, and even targeted Facebook ads to try and get the word out. Whether all these new avenues of communication are effective is debatable.
The size of this recall makes it unwieldy and both automakers and NHTSA are learning as they go. The hope is the next time there’s a recall of this size everyone will have systems in place to more quickly and accurately notify customers.
Progress is being made in getting these cars repaired, but there are still many people who don’t know the Takata airbag recall even exists. You can help by spreading the news to your friends and family. It’s easy to see if our vehicle is a part of the recall. All you need to do is enter your vehicle identification number, which is found on the lower left of your car’s windshield, into NHTSA’s recall lookup.
It only takes a few minutes to see if your car has a Takata airbag recall and those few minutes could save your life.