Airbag Recall – Questions, Answers and Updates

The front of the Takata Bankruptcy Notice postcard

Takata Bankruptcy Notice

UPDATE (10/31/17): In the past few days, we’ve received numerous calls from our clients reporting they’ve received what looks like a “recall notice”, but is in actuality a legal notice related to Takata Corp’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceeding.  We received several of these notices here as well (for our loaner car fleet).  Just because you received this notice does not mean that your vehicle is subject to recall.  The owner of any vehicle with a Takata airbag inflator, not just the ones that have been recalled, received this notice.  Of course, we’re not going to give you legal advice on how to proceed, but we can tell you that we will not be filing any claims.

As we’ve mentioned before, we check your vehicle against NHTSA’s recall database each time you visit for service to make sure there aren’t any outstanding recalls.

UPDATE (8/10/17): Accord AirbagWe continue to help our Motor Works clients navigate the massive recall campaign for faulty airbag inflator modules.  As of July 21, Honda reports they’ve replaced more then 60% of affected airbag inflators nationwide (at a rate of over 20,000 modules per day).  Honda also reports that their supply of replacement inflators from other manufacturers is sufficient to meet demand.  Toyota has replaced roughly 35% of affected Takata inflator modules.

We now routinely check all of our clients’ vehicles against NHTSA’s recall database. When you come in, we’ll let you know if there are any outstanding safety recalls for your vehicle.

UPDATE (1/30/17): NHTSA continues to push automakers to accelerate replacement of potentially faulty airbag inflator modules manufactured by Takata.  Manufacturers have been ordered to prioritize the vehicles at greatest risk and make the replacement parts available as soon as possible.  Many of our clients have already had the affected airbag inflators replaced.  For Honda, we may be able to help coordinate the recall repair for you so you don’t need to visit the dealership.

As of January 30, Honda reports approximately 52% of the affected inflators (including those added in last year’s expansion) have been replaced.  Toyota says they have replaced approximately 29% of affected inflators.

Please feel free to reach out to us and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you might have.

UPDATE (7/1/16): NHTSA announced on June 30 that new tests on airbag inflators in a specific group of about 313,000 vehicles are significantly more likely to rupture when the airbags deploy during an accident.  Honda reports that these vehicles were recalled for this problem in 2008 and 2011, and that about 70% of them have already been repaired, but they are putting out a call to find the remaining 30% of the affected vehicles immediately.  The high-risk inflators are installed on the following vehicles:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

If you have one of these vehicles, you should check the Honda Airbag Recall Site and select “Check my Honda” or “Check my Acura” immediately.  You will need to enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the site.  See below for the instructions on locating your VIN.  The site will then tell you if your vehicle has not yet had repairs completed.  If your vehicle is in this specific group, and ONLY in this specific group, NHTSA and Honda recommend you stop driving it immediately and contact your local dealer to schedule repairs.

We will be proactively searching for vehicles in this group among our active clients and checking your VIN against Honda’s database to find any vehicles that have not yet been repaired. We will reach out directly to those clients. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (6/21/16): American Honda has expanded their recall to include an additional 2.2 million Honda and Acura vehicles.  Recall repairs are expected to begin later this summer.  Keep checking your VIN number to see if your vehicle is part of the expanded recall.  A total of about 8.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles in the United States are now involved in the recall.  Honda reports they are replacing roughly 20,000 recalled airbag inflators each day.  Over 34 million vehicles in the United States are part of the “largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”

As of May 20, Honda reports that about 57% of recalled airbags have been replaced.  Toyota has replaced about 28% of their recalled airbag inflators.

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the recall of Takata airbags that are used in many vehicles around the world.  It’s a rapidly changing, dynamic situation and we know you’re concerned about your safety.  We are too.  That’s why we created this page, that we will be updating as we learn more.  We hear from our Motor Works family almost every day about their concerns and try our best to answer questions and provide advice.

Here’s what we know:

Takata Corporation supplies roughly 20 percent of airbags to vehicle manufactures worldwide.  In a collision the airbag inflator could burst due to excessive pressure during airbag deployment. Under these circumstances, the inflator could propel metal fragments outward from the airbag.  This problem is made worse by rust, which is more pervasive in humid climates (like the southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas).  In April 2013, an initial recall covered several million vehicles, targeting those located or sold primarily in areas of high humidity, Since then, the recall has been expanded to nearly 53 million vehicles worldwide from over 16 different manufacturers. Honda and Toyota are, of course, included.

To date, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government agency responsible for safety recalls in the U.S., reports that over 7.5 8.4 8.9 million (as of 7/1/16) airbags have been repaired as part of the recall campaign.

Is my car included?

VIN Location - Door JambVIN Location - Driver's WindshieldThe best way to determine if your vehicle is affected is to search by your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  This is a 17-character group of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies your vehicle.  You can find the VIN in several places on your vehicle, including the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side as well as a label inside the driver’s door jamb.  You can also find it on your registration or insurance card.  Of course, if you’re having trouble locating your VIN, you can always call us and we can look it up for you in our records. You can use the VIN to search at the three sites above.

If your vehicle is included in the recall, you should receive a notice from your manufacturer.  In some cases, you may receive a letter before replacement parts are actually available for your car.  For instance, Honda expanded their recall in February 2016, but the replacement airbag inflators are not yet available (but are expected to begin arriving at dealerships in late summer 2016). Of course, Honda and Toyota are doing extensive testing on the replacement inflators before releasing them for installation.

NHTSA has a great Frequently Asked Questions page that can help.  One question in particular that we’re hearing from our clients is this:

Should I stop driving my vehicle until it’s fixed?

NHTSA provides a great answer and we concur:

Vehicles equipped with air bags, including air bags that are under recall, save lives and reduce injuries. The vast majority of Takata air bags will perform as expected. However, as made clear by the agency’s unprecedented action, we do not accept even the small number of failures; lives have been lost due to this defect. If you feel uncomfortable continuing to drive your vehicle before the recall repair has been performed on your vehicle, you should contact your dealer and ask for a loaner until an interim or a final repair is completed. Dealers and manufacturers are not required to provide you a loaner car, but it can never hurt to ask.

According to Honda’s Air Bag Recall site, if you are uncomfortable driving your vehicle until the repair is completed, your local dealer is authorized to provide you with alternate transportation in the form of a rental or loaner car until the repairs are completed.

We do not yet have any specific information from Toyota.

Can Motor Works perform the Recall work?

Unfortunately, we are not authorized to physically perform the updates.  In some cases, we may be able to help. Please call us at 301-424-2800 for more information.

The Bottom Line

As we said, we still believe that airbags make a vehicle safer.  This recall will make your vehicle safer than it already is.  Our opinion is that your airbags will likely perform as designed in the event of a crash.  Of course, there are risk factors involved — if you purchased your car in the southern U.S. or it spends a lot of time in areas with high humidity or where rust is pervasive (such as at the beach for months at a time) you might be at increased risk.  Of course, we monitor rust conditions on your vehicle as part of our ongoing vehicle maintenance program during routine visits.

Again, we’re always available to offer our advice and do our best to answer any questions you might have.

Stay tuned.