Airbag Recall Affects 4 Japanese Automakers, BMW, GM

April 15, 2013

A massive worldwide recall of some 3.4 million vehicles built between 2000 and 2004 for a defective airbag that could catch fire or injure passengers affects at least 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. Included in the safety recall thus far are Japanese automakers Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda, along with BMW and General Motors.

A report in The Detroit News and other media outlets said the problem is blamed on a faulty airbag part manufactured by Takata Corporation, the world’s second-largest supplier of airbags and seatbelts.  

Reuters reports that in some of the recalled vehicles, the airbag may not properly inflate due to a manufacturing defect in the propellant used in the airbag inflator. The result is an increased risk of fire breaking out or passengers being injured by “metal fragments shooting up toward the windshield or down into the passenger footwell.”

Toyota

At Toyota, an estimated 510,000 vehicles are involved in the recall, including certain Toyota Corolla, Corolla Matrix, Sequoia, and Tundra, and Lexus SC 430 models built from 2001 to 2003.  The automaker said that while it estimates that 170,000 of the vehicles may contain the defective part, all 510,000 may need to be inspected to locate the suspect inflators.

Owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles subject to the recall will be notified by first-class mail. Upon inspection of the front passenger airbag, if it is equipped with an affected inflator, a newly manufactured inflator will be installed as a replacement. The service will be performed at no charge.

Owners with any questions or concerns may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or visit www.toyota.com/recall, and Lexus at 1-800-255-3987 or go to www.lexus.com/recall.

Honda

In a statement, Honda said that it will recall approximately 561,000 vehicles in the U.S., including about 426,000 2001 through 2003 Honda Civic compact cars, some 92,000 2002 Honda Odyssey minivans, and an estimated 43,000 2002 and 2003 Honda CR-V SUVs.

The automaker said it is aware of one crash in which an airbag deployed with too much pressure, causing the casing to rupture, but that it is unaware of any injuries or deaths related to this issue.

Honda will advise owners by mail in late May 2013 to take their vehicles to a Honda dealer for inspection and repair, as necessary, at no charge. After the owner notification, owners will also be able to check if their vehicles are subject to the recall by going to www.recalls.honda/com or by calling Honda at 1-800-999-1009, and selecting option 4.

Nissan and Mazda

The Detroit News reports that Nissan, which will recall about 480,000 vehicles worldwide, will recall some 265,000 in the U.S. These include the 2001 through 2003 Nissan Maxima, Pathfinder and Sentra, the Infiniti FX crossover and Infiniti QX4.

Mazda said it will recall just 149 vehicles in the U.S., certain 2003 and 2004 Mazda6 and 2004 RX-8 vehicles. Worldwide, the Mazda recall population is estimated at 20,000.

General Motors

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, General Motors said it will recall about 55,000 Pontiac Vibe small cars from the 2003 model year. These vehicles were sold in the U.S. and Canada. Per Alan Adler, a GM spokesman, since the Pontiac line has been discontinued, Vibe customers will be taken care of at other GM dealerships.  

BMW and other automakers

Airbag supplier Takata reportedly told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it had also provided defective inflators to BMW. For its part, according to The Detroit News report, the German automaker said it is not clear how many of its vehicles might be impacted.

Both Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group said they are not affected by the Takata airbag problem.

(c) 2013, High Gear Media.

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