Deployed airbag in crashed car.In what may end up as the largest vehicle recall ever, Honda is recalling over five million vehicles across the country to replace airbags produced by Japanese manufacturer Takata. Six deaths have been linked to exploding Takata airbags, five in Honda vehicles, as well as hundreds of injuries to both drivers and passengers.
Honda vehicles subject to the Takata airbag recall include:
Five of the deaths have occurred in the U.S. and one in Malaysia where a pregnant woman and her unborn child were killed when the airbag exploded, sending metal fragments into the driver. A death in Florida of a woman driving a Honda vehicle was so gruesome that detectives had initially investigated her death as a homicide.
Honda and Takata officials say the defects stem from moisture seeping into the airbag housing and cause the chemical explosive used to inflate the airbag to become unstable. Chemical explosives used in the deployment of the airbag can cause it to deploy so violently that it shatters the metal cannister which houses the airbag inflator. The Beta model airbags produced by Takata have been reported to deploy in minor accidents as well as instances when no collisions took place.
The defective airbags have been traced to manufacturing plants in Mexico, Washington State, and Georgia. Takata has blamed the malfunctions on a myriad of issues ranging from elemental exposure, chewing gum inside the inflators, and faulty manufacturing equipment. However, internal documents and video from Takata show that its airbag inflators may have been handled improperly and were not sent back for inspection or repair.
For a period of time in the 1990s Takata produced airbags with a non-toxic, environmentally-safe compound called tetrazole. The compound was too expensive for Takata to produce and maintain its profit margins and was instead replaced by ammonium-nitrate, an explosive which can become unstable if it turns into a different chemical form.
Officials from both Takata and Honda’s U.S. teams have been issued subpoenas by the Senate Commerce Committee to appear for questioning this week over safety concerns of airbags installed in one in five cars in this country. A grand jury has also been convened in New York to investigate whether Takata knew that its airbags could fail to deploy properly and failed to alert Federal authorities. Articles published by the New York Times and Reuters suggest that Takata knew in 2004 that its airbags could malfunction and, rather than issue recalls or alert the NHTSA, they instead destroyed their reports.
Honda vehicles included in the NHTSA recall include the 2001-2007 Accord, 2001-2005 Civic, 2002-2006 CR-V, 2002-2004 Odyssey, 2003-2011 Element, 2003-2007 Pilot, and 2009 Ridgeline.
If you suffered an injury caused by an airbag while driving one of the recalled Honda vehicles, please contact us immediately. The attorneys at the Cochran Firm’s Washington, D.C.’s are investigating claims related to these faulty Takata airbags. Our case reviews are free, prompt and confidential. Please call us at 202-682-5800 or fill out a contact form. Strict deadlines apply so please contact us at your earliest convenience.