Automakers are getting a failing grade for their record on replacing flawed air bag inflators in millions of cars on U.S. roads, and the federal auto safety watchdog is debating whether to invoke its power to help speed up the process. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced at a public meeting in Washington Thursday that it would decide by Thanksgiving if it will flex its regulatory muscle in the largest auto safety recall in U.S. history.

The air bag inflators, made by Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp., can explode when they’re deployed, spewing fragments into the bodies of drivers and passengers. The deadly flaw has been linked to at least eight deaths and about 100 injuries worldwide. (The number could be higher since the causes of death and injury could be misdiagnosed at accident scenes.) At least 11 automakers and dozens of models dating back more than a decade are covered by the recall in the U.S. Millions more are affected worldwide.

More than two years after automakers began telling customers to bring their cars in for repair, the NHTSA still hasn’t invoked a little-known power it has to accelerate remedies in product safety recalls. Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a presentation Thursday that only 4.4 million of 23.4 million air bag inflators in the U.S. have been replaced, or about 18 percent. At least 19.2 million vehicles on U.S. roads have one or two flawed inflators, which means most cars are still carrying safety parts that behave like fragmentation grenades.

The power, known informally as the accelerated remedy provision, allows the NHTSA to take over when it feels manufacturers are taking too long to fix dangerous flaws. In May, the NHTSA announced it would consider implementing its power. But on Thursday, Rosekind said his agency was still mulling the move.

“It allows them to do certain things, like force manufacturers to use one or more suppliers to speed up the process,” said Michael Brooks, staff attorney at the Center for Auto Safety. “It’s something that’s rarely done, but NHTSA could step in and do that.”

Part of the agency’s hesitancy could be that there’s little it can really do except confirm what manufacturers are already saying: that they’re fixing the cars as quickly as the supply of air bag parts are available.

“It’s like filling a tub with the drain open,” Honda USA spokesman Chris Martin told International Business Times in May. “We’re refilling the tub constantly.”

The NHTSA said Takata is making 2.8 million units in October using parts supplied by air-bag makers Autoliv Inc., Daicel Corp. and TRW Automotive Inc.

But if the agency takes over, it could consolidate and streamline efforts, as well as ensure that manufacturers are doing everything possible to repair cars as quickly as possible.

The air bag inflators contain ammonium nitrate, a common ingredient used in controlled explosions, such as building demolitions. The compound’s reaction with water – and humidity – is believed to be the cause of the problem. Over time, the chemical can change to explode with more force than needed to rapidly inflate the air bag. Takata has said vehicles bought or registered in humid states like Florida and Louisiana are at greater risk.

If the NHTSA decides to initiate control over the recall, which involves at least a dozen companies (Takata and the 11 involved automakers), it could, among other things, allow independent car repair shops, not just manufacturers, to make the fix when the parts become available, order Takata and automakers to perform additional tests on replacement parts and expand the air bag recall to include more cars in the future without waiting for automakers to make those decisions.

The following is a list of affected cars in the U.S. compiled by the NHTSA. The list was last updated on Sept. 16, 2015. U.S. vehicle owners can also plug their Vehicle Identification Number into the NHTSA recall database to check on this and other recalls. In April, discovered that NHTSA’s recall website was incomplete, so owners should also check with their automaker’s online recall tools. Click on the links below to go to those sites for U.S.-specific recalls.


2000 - 328i

2001-2006 - M3

2002-2003 - M5

2000 - 323i 

2002-2006 - 325Ci

2002-2006 - 330Ci

2002-2003 - 325iT

2002-2003 - 325XiT

2001-2006 - 325i

2001-2005 - 325Xi

2001-2006 - 330i 

2001-2005 - 330Xi

2002-2003 - 525i 

2002-2003 - 530i 

2002-2003 - 540i 

2003-2004 - X5 3.0i 

2003-2004 - X5 4.4i

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles:

2007-2008 Chrysler Aspen

2005-2010 Chrysler 300

2005-2010 Chrysler 300C

2005-2010 Chrysler SRT8

2008-2010 Dodge Challenger

2005-2010 Dodge Charger

2005-2011 Dodge Dakota

2004-2008 Dodge Durango 

2005-2010 Dodge Magnum 

2003-2008 Dodge Ram 1500 

2003-2009 Dodge Ram 2500 

2003-2009 Dodge Ram 3500 

2008-2010 Dodge Ram 4500 

2008-2010 Dodge Ram 5500

Ford Motor:

2004-2006 Ranger 

2005-2006 GT

2005-2014 Mustang

General Motors:

2007-2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 

2007-2008 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 

2007-2008 GMC Sierra 2500 

2007-2008 GMC Sierra 3500

2003-2007 Pontiac Vibe

2005 Saab 9-2x


2001-2007 Accord 

2001-2005 Civic

2003-2005 Civic Hybrid 

2002-2006 CR-V 

2003-2011 Element

2002-2004 Odyssey 

2003-2008 Pilot

2006 Ridgeline

2003 Acura CL 

2002-2003 Acura TL

2003-2006 Acura MDX

2005 Acura RL


2004-2006 B-Series Truck

2003-2008 Mazda6 

2006-2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed6

2004-2005 MPV 

2004-2008 RX-8


2004-2006 Lancer 

2004-2006 Lancer Evolution 

2004 Lancer Sportback

2006-2009 Mitsubishi Raider


2001-2003 Nissan Maxima

2002-2006 Nissan Sentra 

2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinder

2001 Infiniti I30

2003-2005 Infiniti FX35 

2003-2005 Infiniti FX45

2002-2004 Infiniti I35 

2006 Infiniti M35 

2006 Infiniti M45

2002-2003 Infiniti QX4


2003-2005 Baja

2004-2005 Impreza 

2003-2005 Legacy 

2003-2005 Outback


2003-2007 Corolla 

2003-2007 Corolla Matrix 

2004-2005 Rav4

2002-2007 Sequoia 

2003-2006 Tundra 

2002-2007 Lexus SC

Daimler Trucks North America:

2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 4500

2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 5500

Daimler Vans USA LLC:

2006-2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500 

2006-2008 Dodge Sprinter 3500

2007-2008 Freightliner Sprinter 2500

2007-2008 Freightliner Sprinter 3500