More Scrutiny for Japanese Maker of Defective Air Bags

CBS Web News
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Update: CBS Web News
October 22, 2014

3 million more vehicles were added to the list, bringing the total to 7.8 million.

Also today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Japanese maker of the defective airbags, Takata, is being targeted by federal prosecutors.

It seemed to be a minor accident in Florida involving a 2006 Dodge Charger. But when the airbag went off, it exploded, sending shrapnel into the driver's leg.

This car had a Takata airbag, but the vehicle is not on a recall list.

"The only difference between this piece of shrapnel shooting him in the leg and in the heart were inches. It was just a small difference, and luck," said Jason Turchin, who represented the victim.

Flying metal from Takata airbags has been linked to at least four deaths and 30 injuries.

The airbags contain a canister filled with a chemical propellant. In an accident, the propellant explodes with excessive force, rupturing the metal canister, sending shrapnel out.

So far, the recalls have mostly been in southern states -- because Takata believes humidity increases the force of the propellant.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was first alerted to this problem in 2008.

Now a growing chorus of legislators is asking why more isn't being done.

"I have no patience for federal regulators not being entirely up front forward leaning and aggressive to stop these defective products," said Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

Chrysler settled that case in Florida and told us tonight they're investigating the performance of certain airbag inflators. Takata told us previously "one accident is one too many," but no new statement from Takata tonight.

The NHTSA released an updated advisory Tuesday night with a new list of the vehicles being recalled:

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2000 - 2005 3 Series Sedan2000 - 2006 3 Series Coupe2000 - 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon2000 - 2006 3 Series Convertible2001 - 2006 M3 Coupe2001 - 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2003 - 2008 Dodge Ram 15002005 - 2008 Dodge Ram 25002006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 35002006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 45002008 - Dodge Ram 55002005 - 2008 Dodge Durango2005 - 2008 Dodge Dakota2005 - 2008 Chrysler 3002007 - 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2004 - Ranger2005 - 2006 GT2005 - 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles

2003 - 2005 Pontiac Vibe2005 - Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2001 - 2007 Honda Accord2001 - 2005 Honda Civic2002 - 2006 Honda CR-V2003 - 2011 Honda Element2002 - 2004 Honda Odyssey2003 - 2007 Honda Pilot2006 - Honda Ridgeline2003 - 2006 Acura MDX2002 - 2003 Acura TL/CL2005 - Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2003 - 2007 Mazda62006 - 2007 MazdaSpeed62004 - 2008 Mazda RX-82004 - 2005 MPV2004 - B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2004 - 2005 Lancer2006 - 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2001 - 2003 Nissan Maxima2001 - 2004 Nissan Pathfinder2002 - 2004 Nissan Sentra2001 - 2004 Infiniti I30/I352002 - 2003 Infiniti QX42003 - 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2003 - 2005 Baja2003 - 2005 Legacy2003 - 2005 Outback2003 - 2005 Baja2004 - 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles:

2002 - 2005 Lexus SC2002 - 2005 Toyota Corolla2003 - 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix2002 - 2005 Toyota Sequoia2003 - 2005 Toyota Tundra

News Release: CBS Web News
October 20, 2014

DETROIT - A potential safety crisis over defective air bags widened Monday as the U.S. government issued an urgent plea to more than 4.7 million people to get their cars fixed.

The inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed in crashes.

Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem and there have been multiple injuries. They also say more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S. are equipped with the faulty air bags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned people whose cars have been recalled during the past two years for faulty air bag inflators to take them to dealers right away. The inflators are made by Takata Corp., a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, air bags, steering wheels and other auto parts. So far, automakers have recalled about 12 million vehicles worldwide because of the problem.

"This message comes with urgency," NHTSA said in a statement. The agency has been investigating the problem since June, and has cited reports of six inflators rupturing, causing three injuries.

The warning covers cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors and Ford. Passenger or driver air bags or both could be affected depending on the vehicle.

Toyota issued the latest recall Monday, covering passenger air bags in 247,000 older model vehicles including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra.

Like many of the other recalls, the Toyota recall covers vehicles in South Florida, along the Gulf Coast, in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa - all areas that have high absolute humidity. Toyota, in documents posted on the NHTSA website, said the company and Takata are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the rupture and to gauge the influence of high absolute humidity.

Absolute humidity is a measurement of water vapor in the air, while relative humidity, which is commonly used in weather reports, measures air moisture content relative to the air temperature.

Toyota has been testing the air bags, and it found an unusually high incidence of inflator failures along the coasts, according to spokesman John Hanson. The investigation continues and the recall could be expanded to more areas, Hanson said.

Toyota says it knows of no crashes or injuries from the cars it has recalled.

Neither Toyota nor NHTSA could say exactly how far inland the recall area goes or what states it covers.

NHTSA urged people to check if their car has been recalled by going to and typing in their vehicle identification number.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, estimated there are 20 million to 25 million cars in the U.S. alone that are equipped with the faulty air bags.

Toyota said repairs will be done for free and notices will go into the mail starting around Oct. 25, according to documents. People who live in areas that are outside of the recall zone who are afraid of driving their cars should contact their dealerships, Hanson said.

Last week, two U.S. senators questioned why the safety agency is allowing the recalls to be done on a regional basis because cars could be driven to, or people could move to the high-humidity states.

They also cited the May 27, 2009, death of 18-year-old Ashley Parham of Oklahoma City. She was driving a 2001 Honda Accord across a high school parking lot in Midwest City, Oklahoma, when it hit another car. The air bag inflated and sent shards of metal into her neck, causing her death.

"Based on NHTSA's open investigation, the agency will take appropriate action, including expanding the scope of the recall if warranted," an agency statement said.

Takata has said it recognizes the critical role that government plays in public safety, and it is supporting safety regulators.

Affected Vehicles, by Manufacturer, Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbags

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2002 - 2004 Lexus SC 2003 - 2004 Toyota Corolla 2003 - 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix 2002 - 2004 Toyota Sequoia 2003 - 2004 Toyota Tundra 2003 - 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2001 - 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl) 2001 - 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl) 2001 - 2005 Honda Civic 2002 - 2006 Honda CR-V 2003 - 2011 Honda Element 2002 - 2004 Honda Odyssey 2003 - 2007 Honda Pilot 2006 - Honda Ridgeline 2003 - 2006 Acura MDX 2002 - 2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2001 - 2003 Nissan Maxima 2001 - 2003 Nissan Pathfinder 2002 - 2003 Nissan Sentra 2001 - 2003 Infiniti I30/I35 2002 - 2003 Infiniti QX4 2003 - Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2003 - 2004 Mazda6 2004 - Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles 2000 - 2005 3 Series Sedan 2000 - 2006 3 Series Coupe 2000 - 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon 2000 - 2006 3 Series Convertible 2001 - 2006 M3 Coupe 2001 - 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles 2002 - 2003 Buick LeSabre 2002 - 2003 Buick Rendezvous 2002 - 2003 Cadillac DeVille 2002 - 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer 2002 - 2003 Chevrolet Impala 2002 - 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2002 - 2003 Chevrolet Venture 2002 - 2003 GMC Envoy 2002 - 2003 GMC Envoy XL 2002 - 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora 2002 - 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada 2002 - 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette 2002 - 2003 Pontiac Bonneville 2002 - 2003 Pontiac Montana

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