Despite the national attention on the Takata air-bag recalls affecting more than 17 million vehicles worldwide, automakers have differed in their handling of them, Reuters reported Sunday. On the one hand, the Toyota Motor Corp. has urged drivers to immediately get replacements for the air bags at local dealerships while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is offering drivers free tickets to Disney World in exchange for allowing their air bags to be tested.
Because of a defect, some Takata air bags could explode during accidents or periods of high humidity, sending shrapnel throughout the vehicle. In Honda Motor Co. Ltd. vehicles, five deaths have been linked to these air bags, the most recent in July: The company has widened its recall to include an additional 170,000 vehicles.
Because of another defect, other Takata air bags in General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. vehicles have also led to recalls. An incorrectly installed outer baffle used to regulate gas flow to inflate the air bags was discovered in products manufactured at Takata's plant in Monclova, Mexico, from June 16, 2008, to June 20, 2014.
While manufacturers have attempted to address the defective air-bag issue, their response has not included a national recall, Reuters reported. Some vehicle owners can expect to have their vehicles repaired quickly while others will have to wait as Takata faces a parts shortage. Toyota recommended owners disable passenger-side air bags, a policy that was condemned by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., in an op-ed published in the New York Times.
Some car manufacturers are still figuring out what is causing the air bags to explode and are hesitant to spend millions on repairs while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said lack of funding and staff has prevented it from issuing a national recall, Reuters reported. The delay in recall notifications by some manufacturers, as well as the lack of information detailing the potential hazards of the defective air bags, has led to confusion among drivers.
The U.S. attorney’s office in New York had a federal grand jury issue a subpoena last week to the American unit of Takata, based in Japan, to produce company documents after a New York Times report said the firm tested the air bags in 2004 but destroyed the results.