How many more vehicles are involved in the latest Takata recall?
One of the most serious and far-reaching vehicular recalls has just expanded again. On January 27, it was reported that Ford is recalling about 391,000 Ranger pickups because the driver's air bag inflators, manufactured by Takata Corp., a Japanese company, have once again been shown to potentially explode with excessive force on impact, resulting in serious injuries and even death. This is not the first time Ford Rangers have been targeted for recall over an air bag issue. They were also recalled last year to replace the passenger air bag inflators.
Obviously, this problem with the Ford pickups is an extension of the immense Takata inflator scandal that has rocked the automotive industry and put the public on further notice that they cannot expect auto manufacturers to routinely provide them with safe vehicles.
As the turmoil around Takata inflators continues to grow, the statistics have become staggering. The recalls already cover 14 auto and truck manufacturers, and approximately 24 million vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the number of recalls is likely to further expand to include other automakers.
The Case Behind the Recent Recall
This most recent recall covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years in both the United States and Canada. The recall was announced just days after a South Carolina driver died as a result of his injuries from an inflator explosion. In this case, Joel Knight, a 52-year-old man, died after his 2006 Ranger accidentally hit a cow in the road, and then struck a fence.
The accident, which occurred not far from Columbia, would have been considered moderate if not for the inflator rupture. According to the family attorney, the fatality resulted from Mr. Knight being struck in the neck by metal shrapnel, not from the crash itself.
Reasons for Recalls
According to government officials, automakers will have to recall another 5 million vehicles equipped with the faulty Takata inflators. While some of the recalls will be based on the crash that killed Knight, others will be necessary as a result of air bags failing laboratory tests.
Problems with the Airbags
Apparently, at the root of the problem with the Takata airbags is the chemical ammonium nitrate. This substance is used to cause a small explosion to create gas in order to inflate the air bags during a crash. Tragically, however, the chemical, when exposed to high heat and humidity, can deteriorate over time, burning fast enough to blow apart the metal canister intended to keep the explosion contained.
Clearly, the airbag defect is an extremely serious one that has already resulted in 10 deaths (including Knight's) and more than 100 injuries. Ford has stated that it will be sending letters to owners about the recall beginning the week of February 22nd. While the auto company has some replace parts available, it is working collaboratively with air bag manufacturers to make additional inflators as quickly as possible. Ford says customers can find out if their trucks are included in the recall by going to Ford.com, clicking on "safety recalls," and then entering their vehicle identification number.
Fortunately, not all cars that are "lemons" are as dangerous as those described, but for those undergoing the continued expense and inconvenience of defective vehicles, it helps immeasurably to have a Lemon Law attorney on your side.