This week, AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul, fielded the very same question I got when I was on Jay Talking on WBZ a few weeks ago, regarding the Takata airbag recall. Millions of you out there probably have the same question, since there’s a limited supply of these airbags for replacement.
Q: Your name came up when I was researching a recall that affects my 2004 BMW 325 convertible. As you likely know, this make / model / year has been included in the big Takata airbag recall. I received formal notification from BMW several months ago. It seems, however, that the parts for the replacement are in short supply or simply not available in the quantity needed; the local BMW dealer doesn’t expect to get them anytime soon. So my question: is it safe to drive the car before the work is done? Should I insist on getting the airbag disconnected? And is it correct that the recall has been extended from the passenger side bag to now include the driver’s side bag as well? I will greatly appreciate your wise counsel on this.
A: The airbag on some BMW models has been expanded to include driver and passenger airbags. Although there are millions of cars being recalled it is hard to say how dangerous this is. The general opinion from safety professionals including me, is that the possibility of getting injured from a faulty airbag is far less than getting injured in a crash and not having an airbag. Recently when I looked up this issue I found four fatalities and about 100 injuries that can be attributed to Takata air bags. As dangerous as this is, statistics suggest in the last 25 years front airbags have saved 37,000 lives. Certainly then best advice is to not ignore the recall and get the repair performed as soon as the parts become available. To find out more about recalls go to www.safercar.gov
John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.