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From Products Liability Law Daily, June 30, 2016

NHTSA urges news media, public to help find high-risk vehicles with unrepaired defective air bags

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

New test data on a particular subset of defective Takata air bag inflators in certain model-year 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles show a far higher risk of ruptures during air bag deployment, prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue an urgent call to the news media and public to help ensure that unrepaired vehicles in this population are found and fixed before they cause further injuries or fatalities. In the meantime, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned, "Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge (NHTSA News ReleaseNHTSA No. 16-16, June 30, 2016).

The higher-risk inflators are in certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

NHTSA warned that the air bag inflators in these particular vehicles contain a manufacturing defect which greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture when a crash causes the air bag to deploy. Ruptures are far more likely in inflators in vehicles that have spent significant periods of time in areas of high absolute humidity—particularly Florida, Texas, other parts of the Gulf Coast, and Southern California. Testing of the inflators from these vehicles show rupture rates as high as 50 percent in a laboratory setting.

Honda reported that although the affected vehicles were recalled between 2008 and 2011, and that more than 70 percent of this higher-risk population of vehicles had already been repaired, approximately 313,000 vehicles with this very dangerous defect remain unrepaired. NHTSA further explained that even though the vehicles are already under recall, the agency ordered Takata to perform additional ballistic testing following recent reports of ruptures. Eight of the 10 confirmed U.S. fatalities linked to Takata ruptures—including the most recent in Fort Bend County, Texas—involved vehicles included in this population.

NHTSA and Honda advised drivers of these vehicles should immediately visit SaferCar.gov to check whether their vehicle has any outstanding safety recalls. Those that do should contact their nearest dealer to schedule a no-cost immediate repair. Replacement parts for these vehicles are available immediately. In addition, Honda has committed to taking additional actions immediately to enhance their efforts to find and fix recalled vehicles. Honda will provide additional information about their efforts. NHTSA has also directed Honda to report weekly on the progress of vehicle repairs.

NHTSA also is expanding its own direct consumer outreach, including a paid media campaign and a series of outreach events in high-risk areas this summer. NHTSA has also engaged the vehicle insurance industry to help locate the vehicles still in need of the replacement remedy.

Companies: Acura; Honda; Takata

MainStory: TopStory RecallNewsStory MotorVehiclesNews MotorEquipmentNews

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