Toyota recently announced a second worldwide recall of vehicles with defective airbags. The problem is that the passenger-side airbag has a defective inflator that, if cracked, could allow metal fragments to get into the compartment, potentially causing injuries when the airbag inflates. The defect could also leave the instrument panel with "thermal damage." Toyota said that the company had not been notified of any injuries or deaths linked to the defective airbags.
Takata Corporation is the manufacturer of the faulty component, and because Takata contracts with multiple automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun investigating other companies that use Takata-made parts. Honda, Nissan and Mazda all contract with Takata.
The defective airbags were first recalled in April 2013. It was believed then that the defective part had been installed in 177,000 U.S. cars, but because Takata's quality-control records were poor, there was difficulty in identifying which vehicles had the defective parts. As a result, Toyota recalled 3.3 million vehicles across the world.
The most recent recall affects about 766,000 vehicles in the U.S., with 2.3 million vehicles being recalled worldwide. The models and years are as follows:
- Toyota Sequoia SUV, years 2002-2004
- Toyota Matrix, Tundra and Corolla, years 2003-2004
- Lexus SC 430, years 2002-2004
Takata has other safety blemishes on its record. In the mid-1990s, 8.8 million vehicles were recalled by Chrysler, General Motors and seven Japanese car makers because of faulty seat belt buckles made by Takata. Regulators in the U.S. reported that the defective belts were linked to at least 90 injuries.
Holding an auto part manufacturer liable for injuries can not only result in compensation for the victim; product liability is also meant to protect others from future harm. If you have been injured because of a dangerous or defective product, then you may benefit from speaking with an attorney with experience in investigating and handling product liability cases.
Source: The New York Times, "Toyota Orders Big Recall Tied to an Air Bag Part," Christopher Jensen and Hiroko Tabuchi, June 11, 2014