The Takata air bag recall we’ve been hearing about in the news is the most massive automotive safety recall in U.S. history, affecting an estimated 34 million vehicles and some two dozen brands. That means thousands of drivers in Maryland will need to get their vehicle’s air bags replaced. Some vehicles only need one air bag replaced, while others will require more.
Automotive news reports state that a problem with the propellant and air bag inflators could cause metal shards to exploded outwards from the air bag during deployment in a crash, potentially causing serious injury or death to driver or passengers. A number of deaths and serious injuries have been linked to these malfunctioning air bags. That’s a very unsettling thought, given airbags are considered a lifesaving feature now standard in motor vehicles. What can consumers in Maryland do?
As Baltimore auto accident attorneys, we follow news stories like this that affect drivers in Maryland. Here’s what you can do if you’re concerned about whether your vehicle is affected by the air bag recall.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a dedicated Takata Air Bag Recalls website. Visit this website, which continues to be updated, to see if your vehicle make and model is on the list. It currently lists models made by Honda, Saab, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Mitsubishi, and Subaru. Some manufacturers listed have a database where you can search by VIN number. Some also list whether it’s the driver’s side and/or passenger side air bag that’s been recalled.
- Watch your mail for a letter from your auto manufacturer. Some consumers were already notified of the recall months ago (Takata first announced the defect in 2013) and already had their air bags replaced. If you’ve received a notice in the mail about the recall, follow the instructions. Don’t wait, as you’re not alone in needing your air bag replaced.
- Sign up for NHTSA’s automated recall notification system. You may opt into email notifications for a number of types of recalls, including tire, child restraint, motorcycles and equipment, and automotive recalls that affect just your vehicle or for all vehicles.
- Call your dealer. Be persistent, as the sheer volume of air bags needing to be replaced has put a strain on the system. Auto manufacturers are trying to get replacement air bags as fast as they can. This is not something you want to put on the back burner. Get in line and get on your dealer’s calendar for a replacement air bag. Recall repairs must be made at no cost to the consumer (though any other repairs needed must come out of the consumer’s pocket).
- Stay current on developments of the Takata air bag recall in the news. The recall has expanded over the last several months. Several publications’ websites, including Consumer Reports and Car and Driver, are keeping running lists of updates and expansions of the recall. Learn whether you need a driver’s side air bag, a passenger side air bag — or both. You can take some steps to minimize your risk (though driving less, not taking passengers, and/or renting a car while you wait for repairs — as some automotive experts suggest — are not easy changes to make).
Even with Takata manufacturing a reported 1 million new airbags a month to meet the recall’s demands, news reporters speculate it could be several years before all the defective air bags are replaced. To make matters worse, CNN now reports that some of the replaced air bags are themselves defective — and will need to be replaced. Maryland drivers: Better get in line with your dealer now if you haven’t already. Keep your eyes and ears open, as we probably haven’t heard the last of the Takata air bag recall story.
Takata recall shock: Replacement airbags must be replaced
CNN Money June 2, 2015
Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles
Car and Driver June 2, 2015
Everything you need to know about the Takata airbag recall
ConsumerReports.org June 1, 2015
How to handle the recall if your airbags really blow
The Baltimore Sun May 25, 2015