A Senate report is released today on the ongoing Takata airbags debacle, which reveals that 4 automakers are still selling or plan to sell their vehicles equipped with airbags that are undoubtedly defective.
If this was not enough, the report also found that some vehicles that have been recalled have been fitted with replacement inflator systems that will need to be replaced again, because they have the same problem.
What is the problem with Takata airbags?
The airbags made by Japanese supplier Takata have inflators that can deteriorate over time, which can lead to uncontrolled explosions that can send fatal shrapnel flying at drivers and passengers.
Humidity and high-low temperature cycles are believed to be the culprit behind the deterioration, which has led to updated inflators that use desiccants to remove moisture from the surrounding air.
However, some non-desiccated inflators are still being installed both in new and recalled vehicles.
The design of the airbag’s inflator has been identified as the main problem that led to the death of 13 people and more than 100 serious injuries.
As the newer Takata airbags won’t be recalled for a year or two, the four automakers Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, Toyota and Mitsubishi, still using the questionable airbags are not violating any law.
What to expect?
Millions of the older versions of these defective airbags have been recalled.
And the newer versions being installed are expected to be recalled as well, but not until 2017 or 2018.
What’s most troubling is that consumers are buying new cars without realizing that their cars are going to be recalled.
Another problem is finding alternative airbag suppliers, given that millions of airbags will need to be replaced.
Therefore, there are constraints due to the size and complexity of the recal.
The airbags are believed to become more dangerous as they age, so the new cars with flawed inflator design are probably safer than the older versions that have been recalled.
This may be the first time in history where multiple automakers are selling brand new cars with a known, and potentially deadly, defect.
That is why, the scope of this recall continues to expand, and the number of vehicles impacted by it has already reached a level that will take years to resolve.