Toyota has announced that they are now ready to complete the recall for Takata airbag inflators.
The airbag recall involves a list of 15 of their models that were produced and sold between 2003 and 2017. Toyota has made the full list available on their website and dealers have it too. In addition, in mid-December, each customer who has been affected will start to receive a personalized notification.
It is estimated that 928,000 vehicles will be involved in this final phase of the company’s recall. Toyota’s plan is to complete the recall ahead of the schedule that was set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This recall became necessary after it was realized that when the Takata airbags were deployed there was a risk of sharp metal fragments being propelled into the vehicle. These could strike the driver and/or passengers and cause serious injuries.
For many drivers, this will be the second time their vehicle has gone in to have the airbag replaced. When the problem was initially found the only viable option was to fit a brand new Takata airbag. But, this was only ever planned to be a stop-gap solution.
Now, Toyota has been able to source replacement airbags from a non-Takata supplier. These will be used to replace mainly the front passenger airbag inflator. In some cases, the driver airbag will need replacing. For a few models, the entire airbag assembly will need to be changed.
Toyota is far from the only motor vehicle company to be affected by this faulty airbag issue. In the USA alone, the NHTSA estimates that up to 68 million vehicles needed to have their Takata airbags changed for safety reasons.
The initial recall started in April and May 2013 and involved only 3.6 million cars. All of those units had been made in Takata’s Mexican plant by a Mexican/American subsidiary. In 2014, seven auto manufacturers, including Toyota began to recall even more vehicles. They were responding to the results of an NHTSA investigation which they initiated when they received 3 injury complaints.
When a pregnant Malaysian woman was killed when metal fragments from the airbag sliced through her neck, during a 30 km/h crash, the pace of the recall stepped up a notch. By November 2014, the NHTSA had ordered Takata to initiate a nationwide recall. By that point, 10 U.S automakers were involved. Later, that number rose to 12 manufacturers.
Other countries have gradually joined the recall. In 2018, the Australian Federal Government initiated a compulsory recall. They estimate that 2.3 million vehicles will need to be recalled, across Australia. Similar, smaller-scale recalls are now also in progress in New Zealand, Canada and several other countries.
The scandal and lawsuits that were filed by those who have been injured lead to Takata filing for bankruptcy, in 2017. However, the company was acquired by the Chinese-owned vehicle safety systems company, Key Safety Systems (KSS).
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