What is taking so long for my TAKATA airbag to arrive? What Can I Do NOW?

Automotive

Published on July 7th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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What is taking so long for my TAKATA airbag to arrive? What Can I Do NOW?

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Many affected owners are learning that it may take weeks or months for their replacement airbags to arrive. Takata have increased production levels to their limit by adding to its assembly lines, and expects to be making at least a million replacement airbag kits per month. But with the recalled airbags now numbering more than 34 million and counting, replacing them all could take years, even as other airbag suppliers race to support this initiative.

Can other suppliers step in to fill the gaps?

As recently as middle of 2014 it looked unlikely that other airbag suppliers could pick up the slack. There was little spare assembly capacity anywhere, and rival systems used different designs. That picture is changing, and other major suppliers are now involved, including AutoLiv, TRW, and Daicel. Takata has said that it is now using competitors’ products in half the inflator-replacement kits it is manufacturing, and expects that number to reach more than 70%. Those rival suppliers also use a propellant that hasn’t been implicated in the problems Takata has experienced.

How important is that I respond to the recall?

All recalls, by definition, are concerned with safety and should be treated seriously. As with all recalls, we recommend having the work performed as soon as parts are available and the service can be scheduled. Since age has been established as a key factor in most of the Takata airbag ruptures to date, it’s especially important for owners of older recalled cars to get this work done. All recall work will have to be performed at a franchised dealership. Independent mechanics can’t perform recall work.

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Why are we in Malaysia affected?

According to investigators, yes. The Takata inflators seem to be vulnerable to persistent high humidity and high temperature conditions, such as in ASEAN nations.

How are repairs being prioritized?

Automakers are getting the replacement parts as fast as they can. Contact your dealership to learn how soon the work can be performed. Keep in mind that, while you may not live in or have your car registered in one of the impated or priority zones, if it was previously owned by someone else, it may have spent time in one of them. In cases such as that, it’s subject to one of these recalls.

Are the airbags in my car definitely defective?

No. Since 2002 only a very small number of some 30 million cars have been involved in these incidents. Between November, 2014 and May, 2015, Takata that the company had conducted more than 30,000 ballistic tests on airbag inflators returned pursuant to the recalls. In those tests, 265 ruptured. That is an unacceptably high number, and, at 0.8%, a far higher frequency than what has been seen so far in vehicles on the road. According to defect reports filed, Takata said that as of May 2016 it was aware of 100 ruptures that had occurred in the field since 2002.

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I’m worried about driving, what should I do until the fix is made?

If the recall on your car involves only the front passenger-side airbag, then don’t let anyone sit in that seat. But if you use the VIN-lookup tool and it says that the problem involves the driver’s side, you should do what you can to minimize your risk. If possible, consider:

  • Minimizing your driving.
  • Carpooling with someone whose vehicle is not affected by the recall.
  • Utilizing public transportation.
  • Renting a car.

Renting a car until yours is repaired can prove expensive and ultimately might not be the ideal solution. Asking your dealer whether they will provide one, or a loaner vehicle might be worth a try if it accomplishes nothing else than putting some pressure on the manufacturer. If you do get a rental car, as with any new vehicle or rental, take some time to familiarize yourself with its operation before driving.

What about shutting off airbags until the replacement parts arrive?

Right now there is no indication of this shut down being advised.

Should I expect to pay any money to get the recall fix?

Repairs conducted under the recall are free, but unrelated problems discovered during the service may not be.

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