Takata Airbags

70
Million Vehicles are estimated to be impacted by the Takata airbag recall.

The Takata Corporation has been developing airbags for worldwide use since 1988, starting with its first production base in North Carolina. Their airbags are used by the largest automakers worldwide.

In 2013, several automakers started recalling their vehicles due to Takata’s defective airbags. As of October 2016, 14 automakers have issued recalls of their vehicles to replace frontal airbags. Nearly a dozen deaths and many injuries have been attributed to airbag failure.

How Do Airbags Work?

Airbags are a supplementary safety system installed in vehicles, designed to help cushion rapid deceleration that occurs when a car crashes into another object. This immediate change in velocity puts passengers at risk of significant injury. When the vehicle’s deceleration is great enough, the airbag circuit is triggered, passing an electric current through a heating element. This element ignites a chemical propellant to generate a massive amount of gas, often nitrogen or argon, in the inflator. This gas then floods the airbag, providing cushion and less damage upon passenger impact.

Takata is the largest manufacturer of airbags, which can be installed in several locations within a vehicle. The most common placements include the center of the steering wheel on the driver side, and the center of the dashboard on the passenger side. Depending on vehicle design, airbags are also placed within seats and vehicle frames.

Airbags are typically used in privately-owned, consumer vehicles, however they are also made for motorcycles.

Takata Airbags Safety Concerns

Certain types of driver and passenger airbags have faulty inflators which use a propellant that can degrade over time.

Faulty Inflators Can Cause Significant Damage Upon Impact

The faulty propellant in the inflators can create airbag ruptures. When the airbags inflate upon car crash, a faulty inflator makes the risk of a ruptured airbag significantly higher than normal. Airbag ruptures have led to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the U.S.

Research has shown that the inflators have the highest risk of rupturing in high, sustained humidity. However, this does not necessarily mean that only people who drive cars in high-humidity areas are at risk.

Takata Airbag Recalls

The first recalls of Takata airbags were announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on May 19, 2015. Although the recall was technically a voluntary action by the Takata Corporation and its partner automakers, it came after a lot of pressure from USDOT. There were 11 vehicle brands and 34 million vehicles initially affected by the recall.

Over time, Takata and its partner automakers expanded the recalls significantly, as more problems were involved and the geographical area of the recall grew. Previously, only vehicles in areas with high humidity, such as the Southeast and Hawaii were recalled, but some vehicle manufacturers decided to expand the recall to other areas as well.

As of May 4, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had expanded the recall to all Takata driver and passenger airbags containing nitrate-based propellants, estimated to affect as many as 68.8 million vehicles across 31 vehicle brands.

Is Your Vehicle Safe?List of Vehicles With Takata Airbags
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Acura
  • 2003 Acura 3.2CL
  • 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
  • 2013-2016 Acura ILX
  • 2013-2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
  • 2003-2006 Acura MDX
  • 2007-2016 Acura RDX
  • 2005-2012 Acura RL
  • 2009-2011 Acura TSX
  • 2011 Acura TSX Sportswagon
  • 2009-2014 Acura TL
  • 2010-2013 Acura ZDX
Audi
  • 2005-2013 Audi A3
  • 2004-2008 Audi A4
  • 2006-2009 Audi A4 Cabrio
  • 2010-2011 Audi A5 Cabrio
  • 2005-2011 Audi A6
  • 2009-2012 Audi Q5
BMW
  • 2008-2013 BMW 128i
  • 2008-2013 BMW 135i
  • 2008-2013 BMW 1 Series M
  • 2000 BMW 323i
  • 2002-2006 BMW 325Ci
  • 2002-2003 BMW 325iT
  • 2001-2011 BMW 325i
  • 2001-2011 BMW 325xi
  • 2002-2003 BMW 325xiT
  • 2006-2012 BMW 325xiT
  • 2000 BMW 328i
  • 2006-2013 BMW 328i
  • 2006-2013 BMW 328xi
  • 2006-2013 BMW 328i xDrive
  • 2001-2011 BMW 330i
  • 2001-2011 BMW 330xi
  • 2002-2006 BMW 330Ci
  • 2006-2013 BMW 335i
  • 2006-2013 BMW 335xi
  • 2006-2013 BMW 335i xDrive
  • 2009-2011 BMW 335d
  • 2007-2013 BMW 335is
  • 2002-2003 BMW 525i
  • 2002-2003 BMW 530i
  • 2002-2003 BMW 540i
  • 2001-2013 BMW M3
  • 2002-2003 BMW M5
  • 2013-2015 BMW X1 sDrive28i
  • 2013-2015 BMW X1 xDrive28i
  • 2013-2015 BMW X1 xDrive35i
  • 2007-2010 BMW X3 xDrive30i
  • 2007-2011 BMW X5
  • 2003 BMW X5 3.0i
  • 2003 BMW X5 4.4i
  • 2007-2013 BMW X5 xDrive30i
  • 2007-2013 BMW X5 xDrive35i
  • 2007-2013 BMW X5 xDrive48i
  • 2007-2013 BMW X5 xDrive50
  • 2007-2013 BMW X5 M
  • 2009-2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d
  • 2008-2011 BMW X6
  • 2010-2011 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid SAC
  • 2008-2014 BMW X6 M
  • 2008-2014 BMW X6 xDrive35i
  • 2008-2014 BMW X6 xDrive50i
Cadillac
  • 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT
Chevrolet
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Avalanche
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Tahoe
Chrysler
  • 2007-2009 Chrysler Aspen
  • 2005-2012 Chrysler 300
  • 2005-2010 Chrysler 300C
  • 2007-2008 Chrysler Crossfire
  • 2005-2010 Chrysler SRT8
Daimler Trucks North America (Sterling Bullet)
  • 2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 4500
  • 2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 5500
Daimler Vans USA LLC (Sprinter)
  • 2007-2009 Dodge Sprinter 2500
  • 2007-2009 Dodge Sprinter 3500
  • 2007-2014 Freightliner Sprinter 2500
  • 2007-2014 Freightliner Sprinter 3500
  • 2010-2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500
  • 2010-2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500
Dodge/Ram
  • 2008-2012 Dodge Challenger
  • 2006-2012 Dodge Charger
  • 2005-2011 Dodge Dakota
  • 2004-2009 Dodge Durango
  • 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum
  • 2003-2009 Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2003-2009 Dodge Ram 2500
  • 2003-2010 Dodge Ram 3500
  • 2008-2010 Dodge Ram 4500
  • 2008-2010 Dodge Ram 5500
Ferrari
  • 2010-2011 Ferrari 458 Italia
  • 2009-2011 Ferrari California
Ford
  • 2007-2010 Ford Edge
  • 2006-2011 Ford Fusion
  • 2005-2006 Ford GT
  • 2005-2014 Ford Mustang
  • 2004-2011 Ford Ranger
GMC
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra 2500
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra 3500
  • 2007-2011 GMC Yukon
  • 2007-2011 GMC Yukon XL
Honda
  • 2001-2011 Honda Accord
  • 2010-2011 Honda Accord Crosstour
  • 2001-2011 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2004 Honda Civic CNG
  • 2006-2011 Honda Civic GX
  • 2003-2011 Honda Civic Hybrid
  • 2002-2011 Honda CR-V
  • 2011-2015 Honda CR-Z
  • 2003-2011 Honda Element
  • 2010-2014 Honda FCX Clarity
  • 2009-2013 Honda Fit
  • 2013-2014 Honda Fit EV
  • 2006-2011 Honda GL1800
  • 2010-2014 Honda Insight
  • 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003-2011 Honda Pilot
  • 2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline
Infiniti
  • 2003-2008 Infiniti FX35
  • 2003-2008 Infiniti FX45
  • 2001, 2003-2004 Infiniti I30
  • 2002-2004 Infiniti I35
  • 2006-2010 Infiniti M35
  • 2006-2010 Infiniti M45
  • 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4
Jaguar
  • 2009-2011 Jaguar XF
Jeep
  • 2007-2012 Jeep Wrangler
Land Rover
  • 2007-2011 Land Rover Range Rover
Lexus
  • 2007-2011 Lexus ES350
  • 2010-2011 Lexus GX460
  • 2006-2011 Lexus IS 250
  • 2010-2011 Lexus IS 250C
  • 2006-2011 Lexus IS 350
  • 2010-2011 Lexus IS 350C
  • 2008-2011 Lexus IS F
  • 2002-2010 Lexus SC
Lincoln
  • 2007-2010 Lincoln MKX
  • 2006-2011 Lincoln MKZ
  • 2006-2011 Lincoln Zephyr
Mazda
  • 2004-2006 Mazda B-Series Truck
  • 2007-2011 Mazda CX-7
  • 2007-2011 Mazda CX-9
  • 2003-2011 Mazda6
  • 2006-2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed6
  • 2004-2006 Mazda MPV
  • 2004-2011 Mazda RX-8
Mercedes-Benz
  • 2005 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor
  • 2006-2007 Mercedes-Benz C230
  • 2008-2011 Mercedes-Benz C300
  • 2008-2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic
  • 2005 Mercedes-Benz C320
  • 2006-2011 Mercedes-Benz C350
  • 2008-2011 Mercedes-Benz C63
  • 2009-2011 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E350
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E550
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 4Matic
  • 2011 E550 Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
  • 2009-2010 Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTec 4Matic
  • 2011-2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec 4Matic
  • 2009-2012 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4Matic
  • 2009-2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic
  • 2010-2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK350
  • 2010-2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic
  • 2009-2010 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec 4Matic
  • 2009-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML350
  • 2009-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic
  • 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML450 4Matic Hybrid
  • 2009-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML550 4Matic
  • 2009-2011 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
  • 2007-2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
  • 2007-2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK280
  • 2007-2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK350
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS
  • 2011-2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Cabriolet
  • 2013-2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
  • 2009-2010 Mercedes-Benz R320 CDI 4Matic
  • 2009-2010 Mercedes-Benz R320 CDI 4Matic
  • 2009-2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 4Matic
  • 2011-2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec 4Matic
Mecury
  • 2006-2011 Mecury Milan
Mitsubishi
  • 2004-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer
  • 2004-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
  • 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
  • 2006-2009 Mitsubishi Raider
Nissan
  • 2001-2003 Nissan Maxima
  • 2002-2006 Nissan Sentra
  • 2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2007-2011 Nissan Versa
Pontiac
  • 2003-2010 Pontiac Vibe
Saab
  • 2005-2006 Saab 9-2x
  • 2006-2011 Saab 9-3
  • 2006-2009 Saab 9-5
  • 2008-20011 Saab XB
Saturn
  • 2008-2009 Saturn Astra
Scion
  • 2008-2011 Scion XB
Subaru
  • 2003-2006 Subaru Baja
  • 2009-2011 Subaru Forester
  • 2004, 2006-2011 Subaru Impreza
  • 2003-2011 Subaru Legacy
  • 2003-2011 Subaru Outback
  • 2006-2011 Subaru Tribeca
Toyota
  • 2010-2011 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2003-2011 Toyota Corolla
  • 2003-2008 Toyota Corolla Matrix
  • 2009-2011 Toyota Matrix
  • 2004-2005 Toyota Rav4
  • 2011 Toyota Sienna
  • 2002-2007 Toyota Sequoia
  • 2003-2006 Toyota Tundra
  • 2006-2011 Toyota Yaris
Volkswagen (VW)
  • 2009-2014 Volkswagen CC
  • 2012-2014 Volkswagen Eos
  • 2010-2014 Volkswagen Golf
  • 2010-2014 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
  • 2006-2010 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2012-2014 Volkswagen Passat

Regulation of Airbags

Several agencies oversee airbag safety in different capacities.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The NHTSA is the regulatory body of the Department of Transportation that is responsible for regulating automakers and companies that provide vehicle components. In May 2015, NHTSA issued a Consent Order to Takata, requiring the corporation to cooperate in any future regulatory actions in the ongoing investigation. As NHTSA has investigated the scale of this recall, evidence is starting to point to Takata’s awareness years before any recalls were issued.

NHTSA also announced the beginning of a formal legal process to prioritize replacement of faulty inflators. The agency is currently prioritizing recalls in states that experience high heat and humidity year-round. By 2019, nearly 70 million airbags will have been under recall, which is the largest auto safety recall in American history.

Department of Justice

The DOJ is responsible for enforcing law and administering justice, and it gets involved in a variety of cases as necessary. The DOJ started a criminal investigation into Takata in late 2014.

Takata Airbag Lawsuits

Individuals who have been seriously injured, or lost loved ones, as a result of faulty airbags have filed lawsuits against Takata. While the company has settled in several cases, many more are pending as of October 2016.

To manage the load of lawsuits filed in federal courts, legal actions have been transferred to Florida for multidistrict litigation (MDL) hearings. Cases involving many plaintiffs with similar complaints are often transferred to a single district using an MDL to make the legal process more efficient. The justice assigned to the MDL, Judge Federico A. Moreno, has split the cases against Takata into two separate tracks: those looking for recovery of economic loss due to the airbag malfunctions (such as to cover car repairs from crashes and replacement of the airbags themselves), and those who are looking for remuneration due to personal injury – including death – as a result of airbag failures.

The MDL number for Takata cases is MDL 2599.