New type of Takata air bag added to recall
Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding 2.7 million air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata to a series of recalls that is already is the largest callback in U.S. history. The latest recalls are for a different type of inflator than the previous ones.
The agency said the newly recalled air bags are the first to be called back that use a propellant with a drying agent — known as desiccated phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate — that was thought to be safe. NHTSA said Tuesday that the new recall includes driver-side air bags used in cars that were made by Ford, Nissan and Mazda.
In the latest recall, Takata said in documents filed with NHTSA that it tested inflators that use calcium sulfate as a drying agent. Although no inflators exploded, some showed a pattern of deterioration “that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture.”
NHTSA said Tuesday that not all Takata inflators with a desiccant are being recalled. Takata used different drying agents in other inflators, the agency said.
The original Takata recall, which has grown to include nearly 70 million air bags that were used in 42 million cars, was focused on Takata air bags with an ammonium nitrate-based propellant that did not have a chemical drying agent. Those callbacks came after NHTSA confirmed that the propellant in the inflators can become unstable and cause the inflators to rupture when the air bags are activated, especially in humid climates. Flying shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators has been tied to 12 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States.
There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities from the types of inflators in the most recent recall.
Nissan said the new recall affects just over 515,000 Versa subcompacts from the 2007-12 model years. Mazda said its recall covers about 6,000 B-Series trucks from 2007-09.
Ford spokesman John Cangany said the Dearborn company is reviewing Takata’s latest recall filing to determine which models are affected. He said the company wasn’t aware of problems with any of its cars. Ford has the largest number of vehicles with the inflators; the company is required to come up with a list within five days.
Critics have argued that Takata has been moving too slowly with its pace of repairs, and they said federal regulators are being too lenient with the beleaguered air bag manufacturer.
In response to the latest recall, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a statement: “For years now, Takata has told the public that their line of air bag inflators with moisture absorbent was safe. This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based airbags. If even more are found to be defective, it will take us from the biggest recall ever to something that could become mindboggling. That’s why government regulators need to step up the pace of figuring out whether all remaining Takata air bag inflators are safe. We certainly can’t afford to wait until the December 2019 deadline for that determination.”
Approximately 46 million Takata air bags in 29 million cars already are subject to recall, with another 20 million to 25 million additional air bags set to be recalled with the next couple of years. Takata was ordered to recall all of the faulty air bags by the end of 2019.
Takata has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. and Japan as a result of the crisis. The company announced in late June that it reached a deal worth 175 billion Japanese yen, or $1.59 billion, to sell its remaining global assets and operations to a Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems that is headquartered in Sterling Heights.
The Associated Press contributed.
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