The Takata airbags have defective inflators, which can turn the very device designed to protect people, into a miniature shrapnel bomb. And the toll of injuries and deaths has been grim.
But, only about half of these airbags have been replaced. So, why are so many of these deadly airbags still on the road? Auto experts at Consumer Reports say they shouldn't be. The time to take care of the problem, is now.
What is now the biggest auto recall in US history, actually began back in 2008 -- and it's not even close to over.
Faulty inflators in Takata airbags have led to 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the United States alone. And more than 26 million potentially deadly airbags still need to be replaced.
"The highest risk areas are places with a lot of humidity and warm temperatures," said David Friedman, Consumer Union Director of Cars, Product Policy. "Think Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and parts of California."
Friedman was acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when the recall went nationwide. He is now the director of cars and product policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. "Manufacturers need to do more to help people understand how deadly these airbags are. But at the end of the day, it's your responsibility to get your car fixed right away, if it's got one of these defective Takata airbags."
Jen Stockburger, Director of Operations at Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, says finding out if your vehicle is involved in the recall is simple. "Look for your your VIN number on the lower left hand side of your windshield, or on your door jamb. And plug it into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, at www.NHTSA.gov/Recalls , and it'll let you know if your vehicle is on the list," Stockburger said.
And then, contact the dealership to arrange a free replacement, as soon as possible.
The list of recalled cars is growing. So even if you've checked your VIN number before, Consumer Reports says it's important to check it again to see if your vehicle has been added to the list.
Ford and Mazda have both issued warnings to stop driving their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-series pick-up trucks.
Have the vehicles towed to the dealership to replace the airbags. And finally, be aware the airbags in certain Honda and Acura models, from 2001, 2002, 2003, also show a far higher risk of exploding in a crash.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
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