Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles
May 20, 2015
The automotive world and beyond is buzzing about the massive airbag recall covering many millions of vehicles in the U.S. from nearly two dozen brands. It is the largest auto recall in US history. Here's what you need to know about the problem; which vehicles may have the defective, shrapnel-shooting inflator parts from Japanese supplier Takata; and what to do if your vehicle is one of them.
The issue involves defective inflator and propellent devices that may deploy improperly in the event of a crash, shooting metal fragments into vehicle occupants. More than 7 million vehicles are potentially affected in the United States.
Initially, only six makes were involved when Takata announced the fault in April 2013, but a Toyota recall in June this year—along with new admissions from Takata that it had little clue as to which cars used its defective inflators, or even what the root cause was—prompted more automakers to issue identical recalls. In July, NHTSA forced additional regional recalls in high-humidity areas including Florida, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to gather removed parts and send them to Takata for review.
Another major recall issued on October 20 expanded the affected vehicles across several brands. For its part, Toyota said it would begin to replace defective passenger-side inflators starting October 25; if parts are unavailable, however, it has advised its dealers to disable the airbags and affix "Do Not Sit Here" messages to the dashboard.
RELATED: Honda and Takata Allegedly Knew About Airbag Deaths for Years
While Toyota says there have been no related injuries or deaths involving its vehicles, a New York Times report in September found a total of at least 139 reported injuries across all automakers. In particular, there have been at least two deaths and 30 injuries in Honda vehicles. According to the Times, Honda and Takata allegedly have known about the faulty inflators since 2004 but failed to notify NHTSA in previous recall filings (which began in 2008) that the affected airbags had actually ruptured or were linked to injuries and deaths.
Takata first said that propellant chemicals were mishandled and improperly stored during assembly, which supposedly caused the metal airbag inflators to burst open due to excessive pressure inside. In July, the company blamed humid weather and spurred additional recalls.
According to documents reviewed by Reuters, Takata says that rust, bad welds, and even chewing gum dropped into at least one inflator are also at fault. The same documents show that in 2002, Takata's plant in Mexico allowed a defect rate that was "six to eight times above" acceptable limits, or roughly 60 to 80 defective parts for every 1 million airbag inflators shipped. The company's study has yet to reach a final conclusion and report the findings to NHTSA.
UPDATE 11/7, 9:44 a.m.:The New York Times has published a report suggesting that Takata knew about the airbag issues in 2004, conducting secret tests off work hours to verify the problem. The results confirmed major issues with the inflators, and engineers quickly began researching a solution. But instead of notifying federal safety regulators and moving forward with fixes, Takata executives ordered its engineers to destroy the data and dispose of the physical evidence. This occurred a full four years before Takata publicly acknowledged the problem.
UPDATE 11/7, 5:29 p.m.: Two U.S. Senators have now called for the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation on this matter. Takata has stated that "the allegations contained in the New York Times article are fundamentally inaccurate." The company went on to state that it "takes very seriously the accusations made in this article and we are cooperating and participating fully with the government investigation now underway."Read more about these developments on this C/D page.
UPDATE 11/13, 11:10 a.m.: Takata has released a more formal statement saying that the allegations made in last week's New York Times article "are fundamentally inaccurate" and that it "unfairly impugned the integrity of Takata and its employees." The company says (in this PDF) that there were no tests of "scrapyard airbag inflators" in 2004, that after-hours tests in 2004 "were not 'secret tests' . . . [but] were done at the request of NHTSA to address a cushion-tearing issue unrelated to inflator rupturing," and that it "did not suppress any test results showing cracking or rupturing in the inflators," whether to automakers such as Honda or to NHTSA.For its story about Takata's statement, the Times spoke again with one of its two sources for the November 6 article. That anonymous person is quoted as saying: "What Takata says is not true . . . They are trying to switch things around."On November 12, we reported about a change in Takata's chemical makeup of its airbag propellant, which the company says is unrelated to the ongoing recall situation.
UPDATE 11/18, 6:10 p.m.: In light of a recent airbag failure in a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina—which was not part of the original "high-humidity areas" Takata recall—the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling for a nationwide recall of cars equipped with the defective Takata driver's-side airbags.
UPDATE 11/20, 5:35 p.m.: Automakers, officials from Takata, and motorists injured by defective airbags met for a hearing with Congress. NHTSA was accused of not responding quickly enough to the Takata airbag situation, and automakers also took heat for being slow with fixes. As of now, the recalls remain regional, but it seems only a matter of time before they're blanketed nationwide.
UPDATE 11/26, 1:00 p.m.: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has formally demanded that Takata push through a nationwide recall of cars equipped with the suspect driver's-side airbags. Also, officials in Japan are calling for a recall expansion, after an airbag from an unspecified car not covered by previous recalls ruptured in testing.
UPDATE 12/2, 5:45 p.m.: Toyota and Honda have released similar statements urging for an "industry-wide joint initiative to independently test Takata airbag inflators." Meanwhile, Takata's chairman stated today that he'll create a "quality assurance panel" to scrutinize the company's production procedures. Takata and NHTSA officials today made statements before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. NHTSA is still pushing for a nationwide expansion of the still-regional airbag recall—but for defective driver's-side airbags only; the agency says a coast-to-coast recall on passenger-side airbags isn't necessary. Such a large-scale recall, many say, would squeeze the limited supply of replacement parts in the most at-risk (read: humid) regions of the country.
UPDATE 12/3, 6:50 p.m.: Takata executives, as well as those from NHTSA and several automakers, again sat before Congress, discussing how this nightmare situation went unaddressed for so long, how it can be fixed promptly and properly, and how it will be prevented from happening again. Honda is expanding its recall nationwide, and Takata's internal testing has revealed high failure rates.
UPDATE 12/4, 10:25 a.m.: Chrysler, Ford, and Toyota have expanded their recalls of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags.Chrysler's recall update adds the passenger-side airbags of roughly 149,000 2003 Ram pickups (1500, 2500, and 3500), which were already part of a driver's-side airbag recall. The recall remains regional, encompassing trucks "sold or ever registered in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands." Chrysler says it is unaware of any accidents or injuries related to these airbag inflators and that no failures have occurred in laboratory tests. NHTSA has already stated is dissatisfaction with Chrysler's move: "Chrysler's latest recall is insufficient, doesn't meet our demands, and fails to include all inflators covered by Takata's defect information report."Ford's expanded recall is very similar to Chrysler's, adding passenger-side airbags to the repair list of about 13,000 vehicles (2004–2005 Rangers and 2005–2006 GTs) already involved in the regional Takata recalls. Ford is even more selective with the targeted locations: it covers vehicles "originally sold, or ever registered, in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It adds certain zip codes with high absolute humidity conditions in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa."Toyota has recalled some 190,000 vehicles in China and Japan, many of them similar to the company's U.S.-market vehicles listed below.
UPDATE 12/5, 3:15 p.m.: Honda has announced the addition of 3 million vehicles to its list of affected cars—and also that its recall is now nationwide. Read more on this development in this story.
UPDATE 12/18, 10:50 a.m.:Ford has expanded the breadth of its recall for Takata driver's-side airbags, adding nearly 450,000 vehicles—all Mustangs and GTs—to its list. (Rangers are part of a separate action.) Mazda also expanded its recall to be nationwide for 2004–2008 Mazda 6 and RX-8 vehicles, upping its total of affected cars by about 265,000. Also, Chrysler recently added roughly 139,000 vehicles from the 2003–2005 model years to its regional recall, which now includes the previously unaffected areas of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan. (Also, the 2006–2007 Charger is now listed below, compensating for an oversight on NHTSA's outdated master list.)
UPDATE 12/19, 7:00 p.m.: Giving in to NHTSA's demands, Chrysler has drastically expanded its now-nationwide recall—by more than 2 million vehicles. A number of 2004–2007 model-year products, included below and specifically called out in this press release, are being called back to have their driver's-side airbag inflators replaced. The company reports only one related injury. According to The Detroit Free Press, BMW is now the last automaker (of five) holding out from NHTSA's demand for a nationwide airbag recall on affected vehicles.
UPDATE 12/30, 10:00 a.m.: BMW has added another 140,000 vehicles to its now-nationwide airbag-recall list, meaning that all five primary carmakers involved in this situation have ditched the regional recalls. Also, Takata president Stefan Stocker has stepped down from the presidency of Takata, and top company executives have agreed to take significant pay cuts.
UPDATE 1/20/2015, 4:00 p.m.: Six panelists—including one who oversaw the Cerberus ownership of Chrysler—will join an independent review board in looking into Takata's manufacturing processes and recommending best practices for what has become one of the largest-ever auto recalls. Former U.S. transportation secretary (1989–1991) Samuel K. Skinner will lead the panel.
UPDATE 2/11/2015, 10:25 a.m.: Takata—finally—is increasing its capacity to produce replacement airbag inflators at its plants around the world. By September, according to Automotive News, Takata will be able to make 900,000 replacement units per month. Upgraded assembly lines at a factory in Mexico have already increased that plant's capacity from 300,000 units per month to 450,000. Meanwhile, reports of people being seriously injured by these defective airbags continue to arise.
UPDATE 2/20/2015, 4:10 p.m.:Takata faces civil fines of $14,000 per day for its alleged refusal to cooperate with a federal investigation over these defective airbags. The supplier has provided plenty of paperwork to NHTSA, but the agency found the "deluge of documents" unsatisfactory.
UPDATE 3/12/2015, 12:10 p.m.: Honda has announced that it is instituting a voluntary advertising campaign urging owners of Honda and Acura automobiles to check for open airbag and safety recalls that may affect their vehicle. See one of the ads and read more in our story.
UPDATE 3/19/2015, 2:25 p.m.:Honda has added about 105,000 vehicles to its recall list. These include nearly 90,000 Pilots from the 2008 model year as well as some 2004 Civics and 2001 Accords that previously weren't part of the recall. Our list below has been updated.
UPDATE 3/23/2015, 1:40 p.m.:According to a new survey, a surprising and unnerving number of Americans evidently haven't bothered to get these potentially lethal airbags repaired. Just 12 percent of all cars recalled for faulty Takata airbags in the U.S. have been repaired. In Japan, conversely, a full 70 percent of the 3 million cars under recall have been repaired.
UPDATE 4/14/2015, 2:30 p.m.:Honda has stated that the driver of a 2003 Civic was injured by a ruptured airbag during a crash in Florida on March 20.
UPDATE 4/21/2015, 10:15 a.m.: Nissan has added another 45,000 Sentras from the 2006 model year to its large-scale recall for defective Takata airbags. Owners will be notified via FedEx. Affected cars, according to Nissan, are those "that currently are or previously were registered in Florida and adjacent counties in southern Georgia; Hawaii; Guam; Puerto Rico; Saipan; American Samoa; U.S. Virgin Islands; and coastal areas of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas." This action was partially prompted by the investigation of a March crash in Louisiana in which a woman was injured by airbag shrapnel from her 2006 Sentra.
UPDATE 5/13/2015, 3:15 p.m.:Toyota and Nissan announced new and expanded recall activity to replace potentially deadly Takata airbags in nearly 6.5 million vehicles worldwide. The recall affects nearly 1 million vehicles in North America. The Toyota RAV4 (model years 2004 and 2005), previously unaffected by these recalls, is now on the list; Toyota is recalling some 160,000 of the models to replace their driver's-side airbags. The RAV4 has been added to our comprehensive list below.
UPDATE 5/19/2015, 2:15 p.m.: Takata has declared as defective nearly 34 million vehicles, which is expected to lead to even more extensive recalls of vehicles with the company's airbags. In a news conference today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx called the expanded recall "the most complex consumer-safety recall in U.S. history." He added: "Up until now Takata has refused to acknowledge that their airbags are defective. That changes today." Also, the company has agreed to pay the U.S. government millions in fines for not cooperating in the investigations of numerous injuries and deaths; the exact amount will be announced at a later date.
Toyota (877,000, including Lexus and Pontiac Vibe): 2002–2005 Toyota Corolla and Sequoia; 2003–2005 Matrix, Tundra
We will update this list as soon as new information is available, but you can access NHTSA's own running tally of affected vehicles here. For further information about your specific vehicle, go to the manufacturer's consumer website or use NHTSA's VIN-lookup tool.