UPDATED: NHTSA Demands Response to Takata Driver Airbag Recall Request, Recall Issued for Passenger Airbags

UPDATED: NHTSA Demands Response to Takata Driver Airbag Recall Request, Recall Issued for Passenger Airbags
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December 4, 2014

Takata this week rejected a request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a nationwide recall of its driver-side airbags.

The embattled airbag manufacturer has previously denied requests to expand the recall outside of high-humidity areas, citing the lack of evidence that a broader recall is necessary.

The NHTSA threatened to fine the company $7,000 per car, per day if it didn't expand the recall, but is now reviewing Takata's response to determine the agency's next steps.

Nearly 8 million cars in the U.S. have been recalled as a result of defective Takata airbags that explode on deployment, injuring and in at least five cases, killing vehicle occupants. Since high humidity seems to cause the propellant in the airbag to become unstable, the recalls have been mostly limited to southern states and U.S. territories.

At least two airbag-related injuries have happened outside the recall area, one in California and another in North Carolina.

As a result, the NHTSA requested in November that Takata and automakers expand their recalls nationwide. Citing a design difference, the NHTSA did not require a national recall of passenger-side airbags.

Takata, however, denied that a problem exists outside of the initial regional recall areas.

In a strongly written letter to the company, the NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), requested that the company admit there is a defect with its product and issue a nationwide recall.

"Takata has not provided any new information to support its position that a regional recall is appropriate, nor has Takata provided any explanation for driver side airbag ruptures that have occurred outside the areas of high absolute humidity," wrote ODI director Frank Borris.

Honda, Takata's biggest client, announced that it would expand the recall nationwide and is in talks with Takata's competitors to make supplies available for the undertaking. Ford, Mazda, BMW and Chrysler have not yet announced any plans to expand the recall.

Passenger-Side Airbags Recalled

Mitsubishi, Subaru and Saab issued their own recalls for passenger-side Takata airbags in an undisclosed number of vehicles.

The recall affects cars that were sold or registered in geographic locations associated with high absolute humidity, including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Florida and adjacent counties in southern Georgia, as well as the coastal areas of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Subaru is recalling certain model year 2003-2005 Legacy, Outback, Baja, and 2004-2005 Impreza (including WRX/STI) vehicles.

Saab is recalling certain model year 2005 9-2X vehicles.

Mitsubishi is recalling certain model year 2004-2005 Lancer vehicles.

Subaru will notify their owners and Saab owners will be notified by General Motors, but the manufacturers have not yet provided a notification schedule.

Dealers will replace the passenger airbag inflator, free of charge.

For more information, owners can contact Subaru at 1-800-782-2783, Saab at 1-800-955-9007 and Mitsubishi at 1-888-648-7820.