Feds Announce Increasing Rates of Takata Recall Repairs as Honda Announces Latest Airbag Death

Feds Announce Increasing Rates of Takata Recall Repairs as Honda Announces Latest Airbag Death
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December 30, 2015

The pace at which dealerships are completing recall repairs on vehicles with defective airbags is steadily accelerating, say federal regulators.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from the last week of November to the first week of December, about 950,000 vehicles with Takata airbags have been repaired.

To keep the recalls on track, NHTSA selected John Buretta to serve as the Takata monitor. Buretta will be responsible overseeing both the coordinated remedy program and Takata's compliance with consent orders handed down by the agency.

The announcement comes at the same time as news of a ninth death connected to the airbags, which deploy with such force that they rupture, sending shards of plastic and metal shrapnel flying throughout the car.

The latest death seems to highlight the problem within the recall notification and repair system. According to a report from Bloomberg News, between 2010 and 2012, Honda sent multiple recall notifications the original owner of the 2001 Accord. In July, however, the car was sold to another person without the repairs being completed. Having received the new owner's information, Honda mailed another recall notice. Unfortunately, the mailing went out the day before the car was in an accident, which caused the airbag to shatter and fatally injure the driver.

While new cars must have any open recall repairs performed before they leave the lot, the same can't be said for used cars. In the U.S. used cars and be sold, bought and registered without completing recalls. A U.S. Senate bill would ban the sale of used cars that have open recalls, but it has been under fierce opposition from used-car dealers who say a ban would decrease trade-in values and keep cars on the lot for longer periods of time.

Carmakers only authorize certified dealerships to perform recall repairs, which is why you can't go to an independent mechanic. Independent dealerships would have to rely on their competition to fix their cars, which might end up on the backburner, they say.

Used-car dealers and auto safety advocates continue to argue about repair responsibility.

Another Bloomberg article points out that Honda and Takata discussed the defect as early as 2009 after the first airbag-related death, an 18-year-old girl. According to documents released as part of a court case, Honda demanded to know the reason for the defect and claimed Takata executives didn't grasp the gravity of the situation. Honda recalled an additional 440,000 cars following the meeting, but determined they were isolated manufacturing problems.

More Models Added

After a bit of a respite, more vehicle models with defective Takata airbags have been added to the recall list, which, in total, affects tens of millions of vehicles.

The following makes and models are now being recalled for defective passenger airbags.

  • 2005-2008 Mazda6
  • 2002-2004 Honda CR-V
  • 2005-2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback