The Takata Recall Hits Home

More air bags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected airbags to around 65 million to 70 million.

Colored red and yellow, the oversized Toyota/NHTSA postcard stood out from the usual junk mail when it arrived in April 2018. Boldfaced red text on the back said, "Your Airbag is Dangerous. It Must Be Repaired." So I did the right thing—I visited the toyota.com/recall website, did a dealer search with my car's VIN number, found the nearest one that could do the airbag inflator replacement for my 2010 Matrix, and then called that dealer's service department to schedule the free repair.

The entire process couldn't have been easier. Sure, I wish the repair work hadn't been needed at all, but I'm not complaining. If this car's airbags do deploy someday, I want them to work properly to protect whoever's in the car and not injure or even kill the person(s) inside.

Millions of drivers' vehicles need it. There are 19 vehicle manufacturers working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get at least 37 million vehicles repaired—the inflator for the front airbag on the driver's side or on the passenger's side, or both, must be replaced—in the largest, most complicated vehicle recall in U.S. history, according to the agency. NHTSA's Takata Recall Spotlight website, https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/takata-recall-spotlight, explains why the repair is needed and allows anyone to search by VIN number for recalls. The agency has reported that additional airbags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected airbags to around 65 million to 70 million.

Vehicle manufacturers prioritized repair parts for older "alpha" airbags, which were believed to pose a much higher explosion risk. The postcard I received was at least the third notice mailed to me about the recall; the earlier ones told me the replacement inflators weren't available yet, a welcome indication that my car wasn't in that high-risk category.

This mammoth recall is far from over. As NHTSA says on the site, vehicle owners should stay informed and absolutely should get the repair done promptly on any vehicle subject to the recall.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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