June 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm

7 automakers fixing vehicles for air bag problems as industry breaks record

Washington— Seven major automakers — including Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Toyota Motor Corp. — said Monday they will repair vehicles linked to faulty air bags that could explode and cause serious injuries.

The repairs — which also include Nissan Motor Co., BMW AG, Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Co. — come after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration convened a June 13 conference call with automakers in which it pressed them to recall vehicles connected to air bag inflaters built by Takata Corp.

It appears that with the new repairs — more than 2.1 million in total linked to the air bag glitch being classified as recalls by NHTSA — automakers have broken the all-time record for most vehicles recalled in a single year in the United States. The previous record of 30.8 million was set in 2004. Including smaller vehicle manufacturers of motorcycles and other vehicles, the auto industry’s total vehicles recalled in 2014 now tops 31 million — including at least 30.7 million from major automakers.

GM leads the industry in recalls this year, with a record-setting 17.7 million callbacks. NHTSA discloses final numbers every year, but doesn’t track monthly recall totals.

All of the automakers said they didn’t think a recall was necessary and many had no reports of problems with their vehicles, but would take part anyway. All seven are referring to the repairs as campaigns short of a formal recall, even though NHTSA called the repairs “limited regional recalls.”

Automakers will send the notices of the repair plans in formal letters marked as “recalls” and they will be classified as recalls.

The automakers will repair vehicles in some high-humidity states including Florida and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Honda’s repair program covers other high-humidity states. But if NHTSA’s investigation turns up evidence that the problem extends to other states, the repair problems could be much bigger.

Honda said it will fix more than 2 million vehicles in the United States in three separate recalls.It said it is aware of one claimed injury involving a driver’s front air bag.

Ford said it will recall about 58,000 vehicles including 2005-07 Mustangs, 2005-06 GTs and 2004 Ford Rangers sold or registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chrysler and Nissan both said they will make repairs, but are still figuring out how many vehicles and what models it will call back.

Mazda said it will repair about 35,000 vehicles including the 2003-07 Mazda6s, 2004-08 MY RX-8s and 2006-07 Mazdaspeed6s.

Toyota said it will repair some 2003-05 Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra, Lexus SC and Pontiac Vibe vehicles not covered by a prior recall, but didn’t disclose how many. BMW said it will replace parts from the 2001-06 3-Series per NHTSA’s request as part of its investigation, but didn’t say how many vehicles will be repaired.

The conference call came two days after NHTSA said it was investigating 1.1 million vehicles from five automakers for problems with air bags, the same day Toyota announced it was expanding its 2013 recall for similar air bag issues.

NHTSA said earlier this month its investigation was prompted by six incidents involving 2002-06 vehicles with air bag modules built by Takata in which the air bag ruptured during deployment. Exploding air bags can cause burns or other serious injuries.